Contractual negotiations start on running of Arun activity centres

Littlehampton's Tamarisk Centre
Littlehampton's Tamarisk Centre

ARUN District Council has entered into negotiations with Age UK over the running of activity centres, as the charity nears the end of its contract to manage two facilities.

At the overview select committee meeting of the council on Tuesday, councillors were presented with an annual report on the council’s activity day centre provision.

Age UK currently runs the Tamarisk Centre in Beach Road, Littlehampton, and the Laburnum Centre in Bognor Regis.

But its contrast is due to expire on March 31, 2016, leaving the council with the decision to either extend the agreement, put the day centre service out to tender, or stop providing the service entirely.

Speaking at the meeting, Age UK West Sussex chief executive Diane Henderson said: “In terms of looking forward, life is a bit different now. When I was here six years ago, the essence of what we were going to be doing was to continue to provide a good service and improve on it...

“The biggest thing for us will be working with you past 2016.”

Age UK was given a 10-year contract for the runninf of the two centres.

From April 1, 2012, to March 31, 2013, it was paid £209,773 to run the centres, but will be paid less for the next three financial years remaining on the contract (£187,773, £175,773, and £163,773 in chronological order).

Roger Nash, a Pevensey ward councillor, implored the council to start financial negotiations ‘sooner rather than later’.

He said: “It would be a tragedy if in 2016 we had to say ‘thank you very much but good bye’. Are we going to start negotiations sooner rather than later to make sure we have contingencies in place past 2016, because it’s really very important the service continues because it does such a good job.”

To which Robin Wickham, voluntary sector and leisure manager, said discussions had begun and a working party would have recommendations prepared within a year.