Issue - decisions
Fusion Lifestyle Audit
The Head of Community Services had submitted a reportto provide an overarching performance report for the City’s contract with Fusion Lifestyle (2017/18).
Councillor Smith introduced the report. The fall in visitor numbers was regrettable and a major part of the Annual Service Plan sought to address that decline. She reminded the Board of the context of the decline which included: being squeezed by increasing numbers of budget gyms on the one hand and some private high quality ones on the other; increasing number of residents taking advantage of opportunities to exercise in parks, open spaces and community centres and events organised by third parties. Oxford was, pleasingly, considered to be one of the countries ‘fittest’ cities. Residents were able to take advantage of community use provision of the facilities at the Oxford Spires Academy and the Universities’ facilities. The Youth Ambition team delivers activities for young people as does the national award winning in-house Sports and Physical Activity team for all members of the community.
The Bonus concessionary fees and charges offered by the Council (in partnership with Fusion Lifestyle) is generous when compared with other providers. The Council continues to fund free swimming sessions for under 17s and ensures payment of the Oxford Living Wage. All were to be commended.
There was a commitment to reviewing access for those with disabilities and the feasibility for childcare at the Ferry Leisure Centre was being explored.
With reference to the Scrutiny Committee recommendations, there was no reason to be anything less than ambitious in relation to future visitor numbers; more detail about the Annual Service Plan could be shared over the course of the year and it was indeed important to ensure that the proposal for a marketing campaign was followed through.
The Active Communities Manager confirmed that the local market was exceptionally competitive (there were, for example, 15 other health and fitness competitiors in the City and immediate surrounding areas). It was important to remember the decreasing costs of the contract to the Council. In 2008/09 it cost the Council c.£2m to deliver leisure services, this is now c.£100k when taking account of Oxford Living Wage, free swimming schemes and utility adjustment elements .
It was noted that visitor numbers had risen significantly at the start of the contract, plateaued and were now, as reported, falling. The Leisure and Performance Manager explained that early improvement could be largely attributed to significant Council investment at the start of the contract enabling a wider activity offer across all facilities, improved quality, as well as the development of the new Competition Standard Pool at Leys Pools and Leisure Centre
The Divisional Business Manager explained that the data cleansing, obliquely referred to in the report, had been a means of re-calibrating the data from time to time to ensure that, as far as possible, like for like comparisons were being made. Customer feedback was gathered in a variety of ways which included: e-mailing customers and a survey of c.200 users per centre; National Benchmarking Surveys; mystery visits as part of the UK quality award Scheme for leisure (QUEST); and biennial non-user surveys. Feedback informed the Annual Service Plan.
While it was recognised that some factors were outside Fusion Lifestyle’s control, the Divisional Business Manager also recognised that there were matters which were within its control. In relation to maintenance issues, for example, it was inevitable that as the buildings aged so the number of reactive tasks increased. Overall however he was confident that the measures in place would result in improved performance.
The City Executive Board resolved to:
1. Note the national and local context of the leisure market;
2. Note the overarching performance dashboard for 2017/18; and
3. Endorse the Fusion Lifestyle Annual Service Plan as recommend by the Leisure Partnership Board.