News for our volunteers, casual staff, contractors and freelancers across leisure services

You’re sure to be aware that we are proposing to create a Local Authority Trading Company, or LATC, to operate our leisure facilities.

We want to explain what these proposals mean, and what they may mean for you as a valued partner in providing leisure services in the borough.

The proposals were recommended by the council's Executive Committee on March 6 (here is a link to that committee agenda), and are now set to be voted on by the full council at their next meeting on March 19.

If the council decides to proceed with these proposals, it would allow the preparatory work to be undertaken to put the LATC in place. It would still then be subject to the council making a further decision in July to give the project the green light, and no services would be transferred to the LATC before October 2018.

We have set out a brief overview of the proposed LATC and what it would mean for you below. Here are the key points at this time:

  • Whatever the council decides, at this point little will change across the people, venues or services you currently deal with.
  • If the council decides to proceed, then concrete proposals on how the new LATC would actually deliver the services for the council would be developed in the period up to July, ready for the full council to decide whether to give the green light. As part of that process we would be looking to get ideas and input from you and many other stakeholders to help shape the future of the services included with the LATC to deliver the councils strategic purposes.
  • If the council accepts the proposals at each stage, then the LATC would take over delivery of the services from the council on the 1st October 2018.

Because you contribute to the delivery of leisure services in the borough, we consider your input into this process to be vital.

A council owned leisure company?

The company would be wholly owned by the borough council and would run: Redditch Palace Theatre, Abbey Stadium,Pitcheroak Golf Course, Forge Mill Needle Museum and Bordesley Abbey, community centres, allotments, and possibly more, as the council will have the ability to consider additional services moving forward.

As the company's owner, the council would have influence over its strategic direction. It would be required to conduct most of its business on behalf of the council, with some room to provide extra services.

Any surpluses generated would be reinvested in providing leisure services or used to reduce the overall cost of the services to the council.

The council would require the LATC to help more people in Redditch get more active more often, with key objectives of investing in services and growing participation and attendances.

The LATC’s delivery of services would be designed against a service specification, prepared and monitored by the council, to underpin and support delivery of the councils strategic purposes.

In summary the LATC would be a company, owned and overseen by the council, able to access certain commercial benefits that are not available to the council.

Why the council is considering an LATC

The idea behind the LATC is to maximise the benefit to the community of Redditch through efficient and effective management, to reinvest in the facilities from VAT and Business Rate efficiencies, and for any future retained surpluses to improve services.

The long-term aim is to improve customer satisfaction, participation, and responsiveness to the demands of our residents. The aim is also to help to safeguard the delivery of leisure facilities in Redditch, by creating a sustainable ’not for profit’ enterprise that can continue to develop better services to meet the needs of the community.

From a financial perspective the council aims to reduce its spending on leisure services by £220,000 in 2018/19 and £480,000 in 2019/20. The LATC would help manage this reduction by reducing the amount of public subsidy the services need. It would do this by reducing costs and increasing revenues in ways the council cannot. For example the LATC would be able to pay less tax than the council, apply for external grant funding, offer some exciting new activities that the council cannot provide, and react more quickly to fast-changing leisure market conditions and the changing demands of the leisure-going public.

In this way the LATC would be a specialist, dedicated leisure company that continues to provide local residents, via elected councillors, a say in how local leisure services are run. For example its business plan would be approved by the council each year. A majority of people said they wanted the council to continue to be involved in the provision of leisure services in our most recent leisure survey.

How it would affect you

Casual staff: Casual staff would be contacted by the LATC to discuss opportunities for working for the LATC instead of the council.

Volunteers: As the council-owned LATC would continue to deliver the councils strategic priorities, the contributions of volunteers would continue to help create a vibrant local scene of things to see, do and visit in Redditch. As the LATC develops leisure services in Redditch new opportunities to contribute may emerge.

Contractors and freelance instructors: Contractors and freelancers would be contacted by the LATC to discuss opportunities for working for the LATC instead of the council. Existing contracts could remain in place, moving from the council to the LATC in a process called novation.

What would happen next

Currently the council is deciding whether to form an LATC, and which services it would want the LATC to deliver. If this is approved by the council, then a basic LATC management structure would be created to draw up proposals back to the council for how it would deliver these services.

The process of drawing up these proposals would be carried out by the LATC’s Managing Director once appointed, with input from you and a range of stakeholders. We would contact you as part of that. It is during this process that specific details on the future delivery of services, and how this may affect you, would become clear.

The proposals by the LATC would then go back before the council for approval in July. If approved, it is at this point that the LATC would begin substantially to take shape ahead of taking over delivery of the services from October 1. We look forward to speaking to you all soon.

John Godwin

Head of Leisure and Cultural Services, Redditch Borough Council