Beau Sejour and Footes Lane could be run by private sector

PROPOSALS which could see the running of Beau Sejour and Footes Lane outsourced to the private sector will go the States in July.

PROPOSALS which could see the running of Beau Sejour and Footes Lane outsourced to the private sector will go the States in July.

It is one area for savings that has been identified as part of the States-wide drive known as the financial transformation programme that aims to save around £31m.

Culture and Leisure yesterday went out to tender for parties interested in a 10-year management contract - they need to be returned by the end of January with a recommended tenderer decided at the end of April.

Capita, which is working with the States on the FTP, believes £400,000 a year could be saved by changing how the two facilities are run.

Comments for: "Beau Sejour and Footes Lane could be run by private sector "

TED

This is a great idea that should have been done years ago!

cyril serbant

The problem here is that we have got into a mindset that says a thing is only worth it's financial worth and have confused cost with a loss.

By paying taxes I feel I am buying services from the States of Guernsey and one of those things is good, affordable access to cultural and sports facilities. This might cost money but the benefit to sports and cultural groups and individuals is a huge benefit to the Island.

Handing these facilities over to private contractors will inevitably raise prices and this will lead to less access and choice for everyone.

guern

The Centre was built by funds out of the Guernsey tax purse. If a private company wants to run it they should buy it then we get our money back.

Geoff

cyril serbant - Totally agree with your comments. Out last night and one of the topics was the high costs of some of the gyms over here. If this goes ahead for BSJ then a private company will reduce activities and raise prices as its primary aim will be to make profit whatever anyone may say. Really sad the route this island is gradually going down.

GSYFRED

I Highly agree!

Beausejor gym is expensive enough! and its ment to be for the people. a lot of peopl ehave worked hard with the leasure center and now this, typical guernsey

Tokyo News

I am sorry but what gives you the athority to make such claims and juxtapose your critisisms with what evidence, surely in this vastly growing economy there is many more jabs at the claiment that could persire in stead of some meanial jab at costs.

Guernsey121

I disagree and think this is still a bad idea.

Here is why.

http://guernsey1-2-1.blogspot.com/2012/02/pay-to-play.html

If a private company can make a profit out of it, even after paying Guernsey the "rent", then why can't the States?

Even considering this idea is an admittance of failure.

Failure to run a business properly.

Now, if like me, you think of these as community amenities then why consider this idea at all?

The assumption therefore is that C&L do consider them as a business which should turn a profit.

On that basis, why hasn't the Minister resigned?

After all, he has had the job for some considerable time and obviously admits that he can't sort out this problem. He seems quite happy to accept the good publicity and the tiresome duties of flying off to conferences etc but can't seem to run a small profitable business with one of the most frequented and popular sites on the Island.

Instead of taking the easy route why not ask what it would take to run at a profit?

Ask the existing staff.

Ask the public.

Ask all of those highly opinionated and skilled members of our business community.

Here's two ideas off the top of my head.

1. Run it as a co-operative with the staff sharing 50% of the net profit and the remainder going back to the States. Give them full power to hire and fire to get the workforce to the right level and give them power to properly market and manage the centres.

2. Do an Aurigny and make State Sport a private venture owned by the States with a mandate to at least break even or turn a small profit; a concession to the idea of Sport as a community amenity.

Both ideas envisage running Sport as a business with people who know what they are doing and who are not wrapped up in the red tape that States organisations seem to immerse themselves in.

We are talking about a valuable Island amenity which should not be sold off to the highest bidder just because C&L can't do their job properly or don't regard this as their job.

PS Great idea to release the news out late on a Friday to minimise media fuss.

Maz

Totally agree with everything in your post. No way should we hand it over to a private company, Capita are having a laugh again at our expense!

Les Pets

About time. Churches next ,i hope.

Mark

@ cyril

You have it bang on the head with that post.

I got this really bad feeling that if they outsource it, it will come back to haunt us. You cannot put a price on the service that Beau Sejour provides to the community.

One wonders exactly where Mr. O'Hara is coming from, in one breath he was saying nobody could run the facilities better than Culture and Leisure, and now he is off out to tender.

Is he covering his back on both sides, wants the local community and the staff to think good old Mike has got their best interests at heart, and on the otherside in the States wants it to look like he is trying to save the Island 800k a year, very cynical i think.

I really think that this is one expenditure we cannot afford not to subsidise.

For the record....

Hi Guernsey 121

I don't work at Beau Sejour, but I know people that do.

I'd like to give my opinion on some of the points you raise in your post.

I agree with you this is a bad idea that, if it goes ahead, will end up costing the taxpayer dear (ask Jersey, they thought they'd see savings too).

I think this has been foisted upon the staff that run BSLC by Capita. It is not an admission of failure, they know they give value for money (leisure centre performance can be measured against industry standard quite easily).

I agree that BSLC is a community resource.

Mike O Hara has publicly stated that he personally thinks its a bad idea, I heard him on the radio, so why should he resign?

You are assuming that a company will come in and pay rent and then make a profit as well. This is where you, and many others alike, are sadly mistaken. The current situation is that Beau Sejour and Footes lane cost the taxpayer about £800K per year. The successful tenderer, if any bother, will be just offering the SOG a saving e.g. they'll run it for £400K (to achieve Capitas predicted £400K saving). They will do this not by being incredibly more efficient but by putting up prices and cutting core services, despite the assurances given. The opportunities that exist to increase income/reduce expenditure further are well known to BSLC staff. They have tried some but met with public/political opposition.

Perhaps the Guernsey Press could investigate how much it costs local councils in the UK to pay concessionaires to run similar leisure centres.

And ask them whether the experience has been a happy one.

The actual facts will tell the true story.

Guernsey121

Thanks for your comments FTR.

Capita is a very successful company which has made huge profits out of "helping" governments and local authorities. They are not a philanthropic organisation and will only enter this deal if they can see a good profit.

If C&L's minister opposes the idea then where is his defence? Can't recall anything substantial from him during all his time in office setting out a vision for BS or why it should be regarded as an amenity.

Seems like he wants to court popularity by not backing privatisation but still be seen to be trying to cut costs by putting BS out to tender. Better to have the courage of his convictions and fight his corner properly.

The States have a website so let him post a paper on C&L's bit setting out his views and where he thinks BS ought to be heading. He could always ask BS staff for ideas if he is lacking.

As others have commented, BS is a valuable community asset and needs to be defended from privatisation at all costs.

hobbesvlocke

Tread carefully on Footes Lane/BS proposal

http://hobbesvlocke.blogspot.com/2012/06/dont-compare-meerkat.html

Town Dweller

This will be a classic privatisation model, like the UK railway system, where the Government maintain the tracks and infrastructure, the maintenance of the Beau Sejour building will remain the responsibility of the tax payer.

The classic circle of 'privatising the profits and socialising the losses' will then be completed, leaving the tax payer to pick up the nasty costs a company would not be interested in.

A more efficient way of running the place would be getting someone like Stuart Falla involved where some good ideas and duplication of effort could be removed. Otherwise, leave the place alone!

Le Andre

OK outsourcers, what are you going to do with : Life Fit, disabled swimming/activities, cardio rehab, Ron Short Centre, Swim School, GADOC, Eisteddford, Creche, Kiddy Kapers, the large swimmimg pool, to name a few ares that do not make money but are an essential part of the fabric of our island.

Andrea

Leisure centres in the UK rarely make a profit, and this is generally accepted as the benefits to the local population outweigh the negative impact of any loss of revenue. The very fact that the States are looking to make a profit shows that a large sector of the population will be unable to pay the increased rates. BS currently offers a very inclusive and affordable service to everyone on the island, which may well not be the case if it is privatised.

Yvonne Burford

I agree with the majority of postings here. In the 21st century world of The Apprentice and Dragon's Den many consider that everything has to be a business or turn a profit.

Whilst there is of course merit in seeking efficient operation of Beau Sejour, the operating deficit is simply what it costs to run to provide a social and community service which benefits a large section of local society.

King Maker

Listening to BBC Radio Guernsey this morning, Dennis Burns was bemoaning the fact that GADOC might have to pay more money to stage their second rate laughable so called productions. He also stated that closing down the GADOC charlies and their prancing around was the same as closing down the hospital. This man is clearly deluded and frankly a first rate pratt. Surely he can dress in drag at home with his mates if needs be?

milly

king maker,gadoc put on some first class shows

and a lot of people are more than happy with their performances so crawl back in your hole theres a nice chap

King Maker

Hopeless - first class what? mush - so we should all pay for someone to prance around on stage as its their right as 'Guernseymen'? Ill stay out of my hole for the moment thanks, opinions are like backsides - you probably have two or more.

Guernsey121

I've no objection to BSLC renting out advertising or promotional space if it brings in a good return.

In fact I'd like to see more of BS evidencing a business like attitude as I set out here

http://guernsey1-2-1.blogspot.com/2012/11/pay-to-play-pt-2.html

It seems a lot of people are opposed to this tendering and even the C&L minister says he thinks it is a bad idea.

So why is it going ahead?

What can a private firm do which our government can't?

I think we should be told.

Jim

I think it's a good exercise to consider some kind of private/public partnership with clauses which suitably covers the service and membership fee structure etc. The States are not necessarily obliged to put the management of BS out to tender and could withdraw, some comments suggests the process is imminent. I would have thought expressions of interest would be received but perhaps C&L have already received these.

The problem with Beau Sejour is any operator would need to spend a lot of money on making changes. Ten years is not very long for a capital investment but if the management are expected to run it in its current form, it won't work. For example the way the gym is set up. You stand on a treadmill for example looking through a pane of glass watching people entering leaving the building, very odd arrangement and the high ceilings must result in a lot of wasted energy. i bet this must be part of the reason for it costing so much to run.

Why not offer concessions for part of the centre's operations. The bar leisure area needs an overhaul, it's always empty there's no ambience.

The heating bill for the centre must be sky high with all the open spaces.

Basically the whole operation needs examining and a business plan put together to make it work for the operator, the States or whoever and of course the public.

A private operator would

Spartacus

The way Beau Sejour operates should be reviewed as currently the cost to government subsidises the leisure pursuits of many islanders who can already afford to pay full rate and yet I expect it fails to deliver on Dr Bridgman's recommendations regarding equality and the universal goal of health equity.

Most of Beau Sejour's services are unaccessible to the 10,000 or so who are deemed poor. How can this situation be improved? Life fit is a good example of a great free service but only reaches a small minority. The classes, sport facilities and pool should be accessible for all on fixed or low incomes and could be utilised more fully by children's services. The centre seems to be under used in the daytime generally. As a public service it should deliver to those who are most in need of it.

The centre seems to be underused commercially but I share concerns that savings acheived by outsourcing the management will be detrimental to the service.

PLP

With you all the way Sparty. Put succinctly - Beau Sejour is a public service not a commercial business. By all means take steps to balance the cost but not at the expense of the service.

Also, is it really surprising Beau Sejour is underused when half of it is dead space. Those huge reception areas are pretty much useless for anything except advertising cars and the occasional exhibition.

Guern

Spartacus,

You have a sound head and speak much sense, you are well versed in several local Government areas.

I agree that Beau Sejour is under used in the day time and should be made more available to the needy.

I also believe that whilst in runs at a financial loss that certain areas the value to the Island as a whole can not be viewed at the bottom of a balance sheet.

To out source it to a private company would cost the Island very dearly in more than one area, in the long term.

We pay our tax and should get some small benefit from it, and this is one that could be made available to the whole Island in different ways, long may it remain under States ownership costing very Islander just over £1 per a month ( on the basis of £800,000 and 60,000 people).

If you were to put a value on what youngsters get from the social side of the centre, ie mixing with different groups, being able to express themselves, personal confidence, various other none monetary values, it probably breaks even.

kat

this belong to Guernsey it is part of of heritage ,do not sell it . rent it to a private company,this way we will earn some money from it each year

if they can make a profit from it well done to them .

the only income there is at moment is the car spaces inside . if a private company take over it will be a paid parking lot outside for a start this will bring in an income.

Neil

The Leisure Centre is a civic centre and as someone who is generally right-of-centre I accept that it's one of those services that government provides and accept the consequential losses.

As part of that loss making it provides services that touch on many areas of social and health policy, it's likely that those areas will be the first to be hit or 'monetized'.

The plus side I can see is that often with places like this they have so many pressures ensuring that everyone is kept happy, swimming clubs, Gadoc, squash courts etc; that it's easier to maintain the status-quo of balancing all user requirements as well as they can for fear of one of the characters running to the press or the radio and governement having to act or seen to be acting.

With a 'private sector' management team hands can washed and shoulders shrugged 'nothing to do with us any more'.

Whether that's a reason to privatise the Centre or not I'm less sure.

averagemom

I wouldn't agree that its run well. Extra money spending areas -i.e cafe and bar are appalling. Cafe run down and selling unimaginative food, which is always unhealthy. Bar always understaffed when big events happening. Would agree should stay in public sector but needs to up its performance as a venue

PLP

I reckon we should get Mr Brittas to run it for a year. By the end of that everyone will be begging to go back to the "good old days" !

rosie

I agree that BSLC provides a social service that if used properly should provide a public benefit that would I suspect, greatly out-weigh the cost of the subsidy. Because of that it should be a cost we are happy to pay as long as there is efficiency in the delivery of that service and the center is being utelised appropriately.

Part of the remit of the center should be, as well as providing cultural and social opportunities for all, to promote a culture of health, excerise and well being. Promoting cars in the lobby doesn't sit with that ethos as far as I am concerned and the selling of garish coloured fizzy drinks and sweets doesn't either.

Yvonne Burford

I agree, the cafe has enormous scope for improvement. It is very uninviting in both atmosphere and in what it sells, but these sort of improvements should be able to be realised under the current set up.

I have also always felt that promoting cars in the foyer to be inappropriate as well as getting in the way. The whole foyer and cafe area could be a fantastic social space.

rotten society

The main problem with bogey joe is the upper management. When you have the likes Of 'look at me, smile theres a camera' Mike O'Hara in charge who has only been to the Centre on work related matters 4 times in 4+ years then clearly he doesn't care. Only other times he comes up is for functions that he's been invited to. And then he still blanks the staff, never seen him speak with any of the shop floor staff. He knows NOTHING about Beau Sejour and how its run. The skate park that he promised is still months away, he's cost the centre thousands because he wouldn't sanction the disposal of the flumes, knowing full well they would never be fixed but wanted to look good to the public as 'trying to save them'. All the staff were dismayed when he was put back up for CL minister. Beau Sejour wouldnt lose half the money it did if he wasn't in charge.

Billythefish

It's a disaster waiting to happen. If the centre loses £800k on a turnover of what, £3m, is it?

Any private operator would want, say a 10% net margin at worst, so £300k profit, so somehow have to find £1.1m of savings/new revenue.

Err... not likely without monstrous hikes in rates, charging for parking there, charging for walking on the carpets, heck, charging for using the air!

It's a community service, it should stay that way.

Risky

Not only OHara Chiltons the same between them they have done nothing for Beau Sejour.Chilton was walking through Reception one evening when there was a power cut.As Cheif Minister you would be forgiven for thinking that he may have been concerned and checked with the Duty Manager to see if all was under controll.Wrong as he left the centre he never even glanced back.

To be sure there are more Cheifs than indians and I really believe that thinning them out from the top and takeing more notice of and listening to the staff that mix with the public a way could be found to make money at the centre.you have to give the people what they want and need.

As for the cafe just cleaner and better supervised. would be a start.

Chris Green

I think we need to tread with extreme caution before we sell off Beau Se Jour and / or the facility at Footes Lane. Beau Se Jour in particular needs to be run along more commercial lines, but that does not necessarily mean selling it off to the highest bidder as quickly as possible. Therefore, my preference would be to see it remain firmly in the public sector, but allow Culture & Leisure to explore a number of practical changes on the ground to reduce the operating loss of £800,000 per year, possibly by increasing modestly some of the charges, carrying out a thorough review of all of the services and facilities currently on offer with a view to finding efficiencies and getting more in via sponsorship, advertising etc. If this was done with the guarantee that the Centre would remain in public ownership, it would allow these efficiencies to be done in a more managed way without destroying the very heart of this important Community-based leisure centre.

Oscar Wilde defined a cynic as somebody "who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing". The danger with the FTP in general and with the plans for Beau Se Jour in particular is that we obsess about the bottom-line cost of particular services but we neglect the real value that ordinary people get from community facilities and services.Full out-sourcing to the private sector may sound like an obvious solution to the problem, but it would inevitably lead to higher charges and a lower level of services over time. The only possible circumstances whereby I may feel justified in supporting such out-sourcing would be if a very robust service level agreement (SLA) was put in place under the right regulatory regime; but that remains to be seen. Such regulation can be tricky and Guernsey does not have a perfect track record in capturing good regulation for newly privatised or commercialised services.

In the end, I feel that Beau Se Jour can and should be run in a more business-like manner, in order to tackle the current financial losses; but this should take place with the guarantee that they remain community assets in the public sector.If however that is not going to prove possible, for heaven's sake let's get the regulation and SLA right from the start.

PLP

Thanks for posting Chris Green. As far as I'm concerned Beau Sejour exists to provide facilities for the entire community, and particularly those who otherwise might not be able to afford it.

All you need to do is walk down the street to realise Guernsey has a ticking obesity time bomb. Also, cases of depression are on the increase, as is low self-esteem. Regular exercise can help combat these and other mental health issues.

If we remove affordable exercise services from the public, and particularly low income households, we will exacerbate these already problematic issues.

Your comment about Oscar Wilde is absolutely spot on and puts it in a nutshell. Decisions should not solely be the remit of bean counters. Beau Sejour delivers value to the public beyond simple financial cost. It should not be handed over lightly.

Chris Green

I agree PLP. We do need to remember that less well-off members of our community do use the Leisure Centre and we don't want to price them out of attending the gym, going to use the swimming pool or attending stage performances.

donkey

Could not turn a kettle on !!