Job losses expected following move to outsource Erewash Borough Council’s leisure services

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A number of job losses are expected following a council’s decision to outsource its leisure services.

Last month, Parkwood Leisure was awarded a 10-year contract to operate leisure facilities on behalf of Erewash Borough Council.

The affected sites are Long Eaton’s West Park Leisure Centre, Sandiacre Friesland Sports Centre, Ilkeston’s Victoria Park Leisure Centre, Rutland Sports Park and Pewit Golf Course.

The council signed off on the outsourcing plans in November during a long, heated and partly secret debate – with the formal handover taking place on February 1.

It has now agreed plans to save £309,000 to £318,000 each year through staffing changes ‘in response to the much reduced level of support needed by leisure services following its transfer’.

The borough council says in minutes on a debate held in private: “Due to the diminished level of support needed there was a need to review the structures to establish what would be sufficient for the council’s needs.

“The proposals included the deletion of vacant posts, reallocation of functions within the council and where occupied posts have been identified the council endeavours to reduce the adverse impact on employees where possible.

“The council has in place policies and procedures in relation to redundancy and redeployment and any redundancy terms would be in keeping with council policy and established practice.

“Consultation with staff and trade unions continues and an equality impact assessment has been carried out.”

A spokesperson for the trade union Unison, the union which is representing the leisure centre staff, says the impact on staff should be ‘minimal’ with the council aiming to avoid compulsory redundancies.

However, he said if there are any redundancies, this impact will not be ‘minimal’.

Ian Sankey, the borough council’s deputy chief executive, said the authority will seek to avoid compulsory redundancies where possible.

He said: “There are a number of posts that are affected by the need to restructure the council’s support functions following the decision to outsource the management of leisure services.

“A number of these posts are currently vacant.

“The council always seeks to avoid compulsory redundancies and while the process is continuing, to date there has only been one compulsory redundancy.”

The compulsory redundancy has fallen in the finance department.

Andy Freeman, a regional organiser for Unison, said: “I have met with senior management earlier this year to discuss the transfer of the leisure centres to a private company and Unison has supported members through that process.

“I was made aware that there would be a possible knock-on effect on staff who remained at Erewash Borough Council but Unison was reassured that this would be minimal.

“Obviously, Unison would be extremely concerned if there are any redundancies as a result of this and as such I will be meeting with management again to discuss this matter further.

“As always I would want to meet with Unison members who may be affected first prior to any decisions about what Unison could do in the event of any redundancies.

“Unison will seek, through consultation on any restructure, to ensure compulsory redundancies are avoided.”

It is thought that the transfer will save the council £6 million over the course of the 10 year contract, which has an option of a five-year extension.

The authority said that more than £1 million would be invested into the centres by both Parkwood the borough council over the course of the up to 15-year contract.

The council has a budget gap this year of £1.2 million.

Eddie Bisknell , Local Democracy Reporting Service