Five companies vying for Littlehampton leisure future

A new leisure company could be taking charge of the area's treasured leisure amenities like the Windmill Entertainment Centre
A new leisure company could be taking charge of the area's treasured leisure amenities like the Windmill Entertainment Centre

FIVE hopefuls are vying for the new leisure contract in the Arun district.

Robin Wickham, Arun District Council’s leisure and voluntary sector manager, said the tender process began last October with a notice in a European journal.

This was followed by an open event the next month in which ten leisure operators attended. Those who went along included all of the leading leisure trusts and commercial leisure operators in southern England, he said.

A total of 11 companies submitted a bid by the November 28 deadline. These were assessed by The Sports Consultancy with 60 per cent of the marks for quality and 40 per cent for price.

Five contenders scored more than 85 per cent. A sixth got 79 per cent. The rest gained between 36-67 per cent. One hopeful was disqualified.

“The Sports Consultancy recommended the top five companies should go through to the tender stage. Unfortunately, the incumbent - Inspire Leisure - did not fall into the top group and will not be invited to tender.

“This is a particular regret but the pre-qualification rules require intense scrutiny and transparency and do not permit any one company to be offered an unfair advantage,” she said.

The tenders will be awarded marks 60:40 for quality and price. The closing date will be in May and a recommendation will be made to Arun’s cabinet by December 7, he said.

Chris Marriott, of The Sports Consultancy, said the market for leisure services was competitive. The successful five hopefuls were notified on January 21.

They were all trusts. Some ran services in neighbouring areas. Their bids will be judged on criteria like their predicted level of investment, customer care and service improvements

He denied Inspire Leisure’s claim that its £5million turnover was too small. The minimum had been set lower, he said, and accounted for 20 per cent of the overall mark.