[To receive an update from Lisa Taylor, Head of Service Improvement]
The Panel received an update and presentation from Lisa Taylor, Head of Service Improvement regarding the progress made following the rebrand from Leisure services to WV Active in January 2015 and the plans to continue the transformation of the service. The Chair welcomed Mrs Taylor and Cllr Evans to the meeting.
Cllr Evans highlighted the fact that WV Active was more than just a service in that it was constantly having to compete with many private firms and was customer led. Cllr Evans praised the journey that the Service had been on so far and stated that there had been vast improvements over the three main sites which currently had over 7000 members (this figure had doubled over the last 12 months).
The Panel agreed that the progress looked impressive and acknowledged that the sector was highly competitive. The question was raised as to how fast the Council could continue to attract new members to keep the Council in the position it had now reached. There was concern amongst the members as to whether it would be possible to keep increasing membership and developing the service at the level needed to remain competitive.
Mrs Taylor stated that a benchmarking exercise was being carried out every three months and that there was continuous monitoring of competitors to ensure that the Council was still performing at or above the required level. Mrs Taylor stated that her team had visited national facilities and accepted that the Council could not compete with everyone but that there were not many who could match the offer provided by the Council. Mrs Taylor stated that the hope was to win over the hearts and minds of customers and that the service was currently reviewing its resources with the aim of putting more emphasis on business development,
Cllr Evans agreed and stated that it was about much more than just membership and that the facility with the largest membership (Bert Williams in Bilston) was not the biggest earner and that Aldersley was due to the facilities it was able to offer. Cllr Evans stated that the Council was also looking to attract the youth in the City with events such as roller discos. Cllr Evans was confident that the Service was on the right path to become self-sufficient and was starting to move in to a position where it could be making a profit in the future.
There were however still some concerns amongst members regarding the ability of the Council to compete with areas such as personal trainers. Mrs Taylor reiterated that there were currently over 7000 members which equated to around £1 million and that there were galas, national events and corporate booking fees on top of this.
Cllr Evans praised the work that had been done by Mrs Taylor and her team and encouraged members to download and have a look at the WV Active APP.
The question was raised as to whether the service was looking at deals with hotels and it was confirmed that this was being considered along with investigations into using outdoor spaces more for events such as bootcamps.
The Panel queried whether financial forecasts had been done and it was confirmed that they had and that the Service needed to make around £500,000 to break even and then approximately £100,000 a year after that could be profit.
Members queried whether there were any WV Active facilities in the north east and it was confirmed that at the moment there were not but that there was a DC Leisure facility. The Panel requested that Officers investigate if there were any ways in which WV Active could operate in the north east and that options such as franchising were considered.
Resolved: That officers investigate the possibility of providing WV Active facilities in the north east of the City.