Lambeth set to take over leisure management in-house with £300,000 deal for online booking app – Brixton Buzz

Work is underway for Lambeth Council to take over the leisure contract in-house across the borough.

Councilor Donatus Anyanwu, cabinet member for stronger communities, recreation and sports, was invited to sign the report on recreation management software.

This recommends handing a £300,000 four-year contract to OpenPlay Ltd for a leisure management booking system. Estimated annual value is £75,000.

Three vendors were shortlisted for the contract. The OpenPlay Ltd arrangement will take effect immediately – which seems a bit odd given that Lambeth is not expected to take over leisure management in-house until April 2023.

The report to be signed by Cllr Anyanwu explains:

“This will provide a single booking interface for all Lambeth leisure and sport facilities and courses. The software system will cover things like booking, membership management, access to venue and facility information, guest communications, leisure center site access and reporting.

The pre-Covid days of turning up at Brixton Rec and paying there are unlikely to return. Brockwell Lido users have expressed concern that Fusion continues to use the online booking app as we enter the winter season and the pool empties. The only reason to stick with a reservation system seems to be unnecessary oversight.

Too bad Lambeth felt the need to turn to the private sector for this contract. Another option could have been open source software, as you might expect from a cooperative board.

Brixton Buzz announced last September that Lambeth wanted to drop Greenwich Leisure Ltd, the current borough-wide leisure provider. A one-year extension until March 2023 has been offered to GLL to allow Lambeth to prepare for a smooth transfer.

The reasons for adopting a DIY approach to leisure management were explained by the Council at the time:

“The construction of new recreation centers in recent years has ensured that the service generates a high level of revenue, and the Council wishes to ensure maximum benefits for the borough and its residents.

Lambeth has set itself the target of making a profit of £1million a year from leisure. For 2019/20 the figure was £400,000. The Council says that by taking full control of the service, it will be able to meet the £1m revenue target.

The new arrangement will include leisure centers in Brixton, Clapham, Ferndale, Flaxman, Streatham, West Norwood and Vauxhall. It also covers Archbishop’s Park and Rookery Road on Clapham Common.

Vauxhall is slightly different. This was built by the developer as part of a housing project. GLL has a emphyteutic lease from the owner of the building.

The new arrangement would see GLL continue to brand Vauxhall as a Lambeth Council leisure centre. The price will be the same as for other centers in Lambeth. The Council will pay an unspecified amount to compensate GLL for any loss of revenue to Vauxhall.

The Carnegie Library gym is operated by GLL, but is not under the current recreation contract.

Brockwell Lido is unique in that it is managed by Fusion. The 25-year lease is due to expire in 2028.

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