READING Borough Council’s plans to provide new modern leisure and swimming facilities for residents got off the mark this week.
As part of the Council’s commitment to provide modern and much-improved facilities for swimmers, keep fit and sports enthusiasts in Reading – including the building of two modern new swimming pools – a Council procurement process began this week to identify a single leisure provider to improve and operate all its indoor leisure facilities across the town.
The Council has initiated the first steps towards finding a partner leisure provider with a tender advert published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU).
At the start of this week it was announced that the Council and GLL (Greenwich Leisure Limited) have agreed an early break in their contract. This will allow Rivermead Leisure Centre to be included in a single new integrated borough-wide leisure offer for residents.
Plans for a brand new 6-lane community pool at Palmer Park to replace the closed Arthur Hill Pool, and the long-term replacement for Central Pool – a modern new competition pool, complete with diving provision, which will be located on land at Rivermead – form a major part of the procurement process.
Facilities at Palmer Park Stadium, Meadway Sports Centre and South Reading Leisure Centre will also be included, as will, initially, the temporary demountable pool which opened in January 2018 to replace Central Pool in the short-term.
Cllr Jo Lovelock, Reading Council Leader, said: “The Council is fully committed to investing in and delivering modern sports facilities in Reading. Our ambition was always to ensure as wide a range of leisure facilities as possible would be included in the new contract. The start of the procurement process this week is a significant milestone in the journey to realising this ambition.
“The new facilities will be delivered by the new operator identified through our detailed procurement process and that partner will also be responsible for the day to day management of the sites.
“The procurement tender includes plans to open a brand new community pool at Palmer Park, linked to existing sports facilities. It will also include plans for the long-term replacement for Central Pool on the Rivermead site, including dedicated diving provision, as well as running the interim demountable pool which opened in January 2018. As well as the improved facilities, this will also enable the introduction of membership and customer schemes allowing access to all Council facilities, which is an option often requested by residents.”
In order to minimise costs and drive the best possible value for money, both new and existing facilities would be delivered and managed by a development partner specialising in leisure provision. The Council has appointed a dedicated project manager and a leisure specialist consultancy to support and advise on the procurement process. The plan is to award a contract that encompasses the design, build, operation and management of the facilities.
The plan to modernise Reading’s leisure facilities involves a complex procurement, design and build process. The current timetable shows the appointment of an operator in 2019 who will then develop detailed proposals and build out the new facilities, as well as operating existing facilities.