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Jun 07 2013

New Libraries and Leisure Centre Contract Announced

harrow_council_logo2Library services will be made secure for the future and improvements will be made to Harrow Leisure Centre after Harrow Council’s Cabinet approved the new delivery of library and leisure management services and a £1.7m investment in the Leisure Centre.

Cabinet agreed at its meeting last night (June 6) to jointly commission library and leisure services with neighbouring boroughs Brent and Ealing. This means John Laing Integrated Services Ltd, a not for profit trust, will deliver library services for Harrow and Ealing while Sports and Leisure Management Ltd (SLM) will deliver leisure services for Harrow, Ealing and Brent. By working in partnership with our neighbouring boroughs, Harrow Council will deliver value for money for its council tax payers. Incorporating all savings requirements, the overall savings for the Council are over £930,000 per year.

The joint contract will increase the number of library and leisure users and ensure a high quality service. There will also be a £1.7m investment to improve Harrow Leisure Centre, with the latest gym equipment, new gym changing facilities and an improved reception area. The new libraries contract will also ensure that Harrow Council retains control of all decisions regarding the service. The new libraries contract will also make sure that the book budget can only ever be spent on books.

Brent and Ealing Councils have already approved the plans.

The Council wants to get the very best out of the new contractors and has ensured that they will provide a high standard service at a lower cost. They will be required to increase satisfaction rates amongst library and leisure centre users and increase the amount of people using them. The targets will be checked regularly and if at least 90 per cent of the targets are not met, the new contractors will have to forfeit a percentage of the annual management fee.

Furthermore, the new partnerships will offer up opportunities for apprenticeships, work placements and jobs for borough residents through the use of local suppliers.

The contract with the leisure services will be for 10 years and the contract for libraries services for five years, with the potential to extend for a further five years. It is proposed they will both begin on 1st September 2013. Over the whole of the five-year contract for libraries and 10-year contract for leisure across the three boroughs, savings would be expected to total £20million.

Harrow Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community and Cultural Services, Cllr Nizam Ismail said: “Harrow Council is committed to providing the best possible leisure and library facilities for its residents.  Ensuring that libraries and leisure centres continue to provide high standards is a top priority for the council and this new partnership will protect our services for the future, even though the council is facing unprecedented financial pressure.”

Cabinet’s decision is subject to call-in.

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