By Rashleigh MacFarlane
The “alternative” bidders seeking to take over the management of four under-threat leisure centres have been told more details of how their proposals might be taken forward by Cornwall Council. Officials have suggested six criteria by which the bids might be judged.
A last-minute addendum to tomorrow’s (Tuesday’s) meeting of a scrutiny committee goes to extraordinary lengths to justify the council’s 25-year contract with private management company GLL, signed in 2017.
Nearly six of the seven-page addendum claim that the slump in leisure centre use is due to Covid. The document makes no attempt to answer criticisms raised during the recent public consultation exercise that GLL is simply attempting to “cherry pick” profitable centres and that the company has excluded local community sports organisations.
But it is the final part of the document, outlining potential solutions, which will attract most interest. “The council has received a number of expressions of interest for either some or all of the four centres,” it says. “It should be noted that proposals in relation to Launceston will be evaluated by the owners of the freehold, Coronation Park Trust, and not by the council.
“These expressions of interest for the three centres at Falmouth, Wadebridge and Saltash will be considered in terms of viability and alignment to the council’s revenue policy and strategic intention. The legal basis around which the council is able to consider the alternative proposals is outside the scope of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCRs) as the alternative proposals are not being asked to provide a ‘public contract’ as defined in the PCRs.
“It is possible depending upon the nature of the proposals that they may fall within the scope of the Concession Contract Regulations 2016 (CCRs). These regulations have a number of differences to the PCRs and generally tend to be lighter touch.
“In summary, for the purposes of this process, these include a different threshold with the CCRs applying to a contract with a value equal to or greater than £4,733,252 and presumption of a duration of no more than 5 years unless capital investment is required, and a longer period is needed in order to repay that investment.
“The application of underlying principles of equality of treatment, transparency and fairness will need to be followed when designing and carrying out the process to ensure compliance with council’s Contract Procedure Rules. Any concession contract should therefore be awarded on the basis of objective criteria including the identification of the overall economic advantage for the council as opposed to the basis of prices or cost using the best price/quality ratios.
“The council should publish a Find A Tender notice in order to check if there are any further expressions of interest.
“The value of the concession in order to comply with the regulations is calculated on the basis of the total turnover of the concessionaire generated over the duration of the contract net of VAT as estimated by the local authority. The council is required to assess the likely value of the proposed arrangements and whether that is above the threshold before the submission of the detailed proposals are received.
“This will determine whether we operate within or outside of the CCRs. However, even if the value is below the threshold and the Concession Contract Regulations do not apply, which is thought to be likely, they provide helpful parameters to guide the process and ensure that it is fair and transparent.
“Given that there are a number of expressions of interest, we need to have a process that will enable us to evaluate the best possible solution for each of the centres. It should be noted that proposals in relation to Launceston will be evaluated by the owners of the freehold, Coronation Park Trust, and not the council.
“For the purposes of transparency, the following assessment criteria will be used to guide the evaluation of the proposals.
- Assessment Criteria 1 – Competency and Capability to Deliver
- Assessment Criteria 2 – Alignment to Revenue Policy Position
- Assessment Criteria 3 – Capital Requirement
- Assessment Criteria 4 – Property and Relationship with the Asset
- Assessment Criteria 5 – Partnership and Innovation
- Assessment Criteria 6 – Achievability of Proposal
"The Alternative Proposals evaluation will be flexible enough to consider one proposal through to all three sites per submission from an organisation/ entity/group. “The council will need to consider the preferred alternative proposal/s alongside the GLL Change Notice to ensure that any financial support is not greater than the GLL option 2 as set out above. The expressions of interest and any ensuing business cases will be progressed through the Council’s usual procurement processes.”