Vivacity, Peterborough’s culture and leisure trust announced on June 18 that it planned to hand back its contract with the council, due to the impacts of the pandemic on its business model.
There is a now a 90-day transition period which will be used to review services and for the council to make decisions about the ways in which they will be delivered in the future.
However, there were concerns for the 500 or so Vivacity staff whose jobs were potentially in danger as members of the city council’s Joint Scrutiny Committees raised at their online meeting this week. Cllr Ed Murphy said: “Can you please confirm that the jobs of these 500 staff at Vivacity will have their jobs protected? “It’s quite hard to get an alternative job at the moment and these people… need to be reassured. “This is a public announcement and they need to know of their jobs will be coming across to Peterborough City Council while we review services in the future.” Adrian Chapman, Service Director Community & Safety Cambridgeshire County Council & Peterborough City Council said: “We’re facing a completely unique set of circumstances here as Peterborough City Council is like no other council in the country. “Our only leisure provider has served notice on us at the same time as a pandemic is present and services are locked-down. “As you will know, some 95% of Vivacity staff are furloughed, and while it is no criticism of Vivacity, this makes it very difficult for us to have timely conversations with them. “You will also understand that any need for decisions that we make for both short-term and long-term service provision, are done so with prudence in mind. “We are guardians of the public purse, and we must make sure our due-diligence is robust and that we receive all of the date in order to make these decisions – and unfortunately because of present circumstances that has been a fairly drawn-out process. “However, I think it’s fair to say that we’re almost there now which is why we’ve been able to announce our decisions this week. “So, yes, the vast majority of Vivacity’s 500 staff will be TUPE’d across (Transfer of undertakings, protection of employment) to the council.” Cllr Murphy asked what the cost of the transfer of leisure services would be for the council.
Peter Carpenter, Acting Corporate Director Resources said: “We’re still working through those figures at the moment because the cost of delivering those services prior to March are quite different from the cost of delivering those services now. “The Secretary of State when he spoke at the Local Government Conference three weeks ago said that – and he was very clear on this – ‘…if leisure services are delivered under full council control, that council in terms of the income support mechanism will able to get 75% of that income back’. “Part of the discussions that we’re running with Vivacity at the moment is looking at how much of that 75% we can claim back, but to be absolutely clear we cannot claim any of that back while services are being run by Vivacity.” Cllr Graham Casey said: “The government has announced funding of £1.57bn for venues to remain open and help them get through this pandemic. “However, with Vivacity ending their contract with the council, I’m concerned what will happen during the 90-day gap if nobody applies for this funding. “I would like some kind assurance that somebody is going to look after our arts, leisure and entertainment sector”. Mr Chapman replied: “The council will absolutely be working side by side with Vivacity during the 90-days, but be assured we’re not going to miss out on our opportunity to bid for a share of that £1.57bn.”