In the first meeting for the committee since March 2, it heard from Chairman, Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald, who said: "I think members across the whole council will need to see evidence at some point fairly soon of what we’ve done here, and is it going to be beneficial in the long-run to the council?
"That needs to be looked at both from a service-delivery point of view, and indeed from a finance point of view as well. The decision to terminate the contract was of course taken by Vivacity, we all know that, with them citing mostly Covid as their reason.
"However, there’s some uncertainty about whether or not this was the right thing to do, and I note in your report that it makes reference to this only being a ‘temporary’ situation with ‘reviews’ on a ‘quarterly basis’, but that may take some time to gather.
"So, I just wouldn’t want us to be getting into a situation where we’ve done something and its actually costing us more money."
Peter Carpenter replied: "As Director of Finance I can agree with those sentiments exactly and that’s why we’re having ongoing discussions with The Arts Council, Sports England, and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to make sure we understand all the funding streams that we can use.
"The Covid restrictions, in terms of entrance to establishments, are quite significantly curtailing the income in these two service areas.
"I don’t think that anybody across the country at the moment quite understands how it is affecting things, which is why we need to get ‘up-and-running’ data quite quickly so that we can make the right decisions in the right way."
The Council contract with Vivacity was to deliver cultural and leisure services and included libraries, culture and heritage venues, sports centres and swimming pools.
On June 18, 2020, Vivacity served 90 Days’ Notice of Termination of the agreement on the grounds that regulations made under the Coronavirus Act 2020 constituted a force majeure (unforeseeable circumstances that prevent a contract from being fulfilled) which had persisted for more than 90 days preventing performance of the services.
An extension was sought by the council at the beginning of the month, meaning that services set out in the agreement will therefore cease to be provided by Vivacity at the end of the day on September 30, 2020.
The Council has the right under the agreement to nominate a new provider instead of operating the services directly to ensure that services: (i) transition successfully, (ii) are run efficiently, and (iii) are developed in accordance with the council’s strategic priorities.
As a result, services formerly delivered by Vivacity are planned to transition as follows:
Firstly, arts, culture and heritage services will transfer to City College Peterborough, the council’s adult skills service and part of the Communities and Partnerships service directorate.
Sports and leisure services will transfer to Peterborough Ltd, a wholly-owned company of the council.
All Vivacity staff will transfer under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) to one of these organisations.
The update of services given to the committee members: The status of arts, culture and heritage services was as follows:
- Central Library – reopened on August 10
- Bretton, Orton and Werrington libraries – reopened week commencing August 24
- Hampton Library – reopened on September 3
- All other libraries, including the mobile library service – will reopen on a date to be confirmed
- Key Theatre – whilst closed to the general public, was available throughout summer for pre-arranged summer schools, and has been running cinema events in a socially distanced way. A full reopening date is to be confirmed
- Peterborough Museum – will reopen on a date to be confirmed
- Flag Fen – will reopen for the 2021 season to the general public, but will be available for school and university visits in 2020 from a date to be confirmed
The status of sports and leisure facilities was as follows:
- Vivacity Premier Fitness – reopened on August 17
- Regional Swimming Pool – reopened on August 17
- Athletics Track – reopened on August 17
- Hampton Leisure Centre – reopened on September 4
- Jack Hunt Swimming Pool – reopened for school use only from the start of term, with the 10 aim of reopening for community use from October 1
- Werrington Sports Centre and Bushfield Sports Centre – will reopen following discussions with the headteachers as these are shared school sites
- Lido – will reopen for the 2021 season
- Bretton Splash Park – will reopen for the 2021 season
The status of other services was as follows:
- Community Hydrotherapy Pool – awaiting confirmation of how the facility can be made COVID-secure
- Peterborough Sculpture Trail – sits outside the Agreement between Vivacity and the Council, and will transfer to a third party nominated by Vivacity
Members noted the update in services transferring from Vivacity. The next meeting of the Shareholders Sub-Committee will be November 9, 2020.