Fusion out as council awards new leisure management contract

Robinson Pool
Robinson Pool is one of eight leisure venues in Bedford and Kempston.

Bedford borough’s new leisure management contractors have been announced – Greenwich Leisure Limited will be replacing Fusion Lifestyle from February next year.

The council’s executive agreed yesterday (13 November) to “note the intention” to award the two-year leisure management contract.

A report presented to the members said there is an option to extend for a further three years, adding that the “preferred bidder”, Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), proposed the “most economically advantageous” proposal.

The portfolio holder for leisure and culture, councillor Sarah Gallagher (Conservative, Shortstown) said that there will be a “continuity of service” at all the council’s leisure facilities when the contract with the current provider ceases on 31 January 2024.

“I would like to take this opportunity to recognise the efforts of our current providers Fusion Lifestyle, particularly their dedicated staff, as we recognise that the past few years have been very difficult for leisure providers due to the impact of the pandemic,” she said.

“We will be working with Fusion Lifestyle to ensure a smooth transition to our new contract for their staff, contractors, service users and our residents.

“The contract covers all eight of the leisure sites in Bedford.

“Greenwich Leisure Limited were established in 1993, they are the largest leisure and cultural trust in the UK operating 240 leisure centres in partnership with more than 60 local authorities and public bodies

“They have over 50 million visitors to their sites every year and generate more than £390 million in social value across their contracts,” she said.

Clapham Cars

Mark Sesnan OBE, co-founder and former CEO of GLL, said: “We’re going to come in with an ambitious programme.

“We’ve done it in other places, we want to get the customer experience right.

“We want to work closely with the council, it’s a partnership, legal people call it a contract, but it’s a partnership.

“If it’s not working as a partnership then frankly we don’t want to be in a situation where we’re in dispute with the council all the time,” he said.

“We want to help you develop your plan, we want to buy into that plan, we want to help you deliver that plan.

“And frankly, we don’t just want to be here for one, four or five years.

“[Hopefully] we will be here in 20 years’ time because we tick the right boxes for you,” he said.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter