The future of Friary Grange Leisure Centre

Friary Grange FOIs

We have received a number of freedom of information request about Friary Grange Leisure Centre and have published the queries and responses we have given (with any personal data about the person who requested the information retracted) below:

Leisure centre usage

Received 13 July 2019 and responded to 1 August 2019

We were asked to provide figures that detail the annual number of paying customers for Friary Grange Leisure Centre, with as much granularity as is available. We have worked with our partners Freedom Leisure to gather this information.

The following figures are for 1 April 2018 – 31 March 2019.

Number of unique members 350
Number of unique recorded pay as you go users 1,033
Total unique users 1,383

All of the below participation figures include members and pay as you go users. Please note that the below participation figures are all marked as non-unique. This is because the above total unique users of the facility may use the centre multiple times a week.

Session

Participants

Notes

Gym customer sessions 16,452  
Sports hall customer sessions 23,214  
Outdoor pitch customer sessions 11,878  
Group exercise customer sessions 17,695  
Casual swim sessions (not unique) 39,912

Plus regular club use - participant figures held by clubs

Swim school customer sessions (not unique) 22,359  
School swimming pupil sessions (not unique) 15,173  
Total single/session use of the centre 173,674*

Footfall, not unique, includes participants and spectators and non-sporting events

*The cabinet report includes a figure of 131,476 active attendances, which differs from the above figure (*) because it does not include spectators and attendees at non-sporting events.

Equality impact assessments

Received 14 July 2019 and responded to 24 July 2019

We were asked to provide a copy of the equality impact assessment carried out in relation to the proposed closure of Friary Grange Leisure Centre.

We were also asked to provide evidence that the equality impact assessment findings were seen, considered and responded to by council members taking the decision to close the centre, e.g. council minutes.

Download the quick EIA and full EIA.

The EIAs were referenced in the related reports:

Income

Received 17 July 2019 and responded to 6 August 2019

We were asked to provide all documents relating to the financial income of the Friary Grange Leisure Centre, revenue and details of income and expenditure on the building in the last three years. This is as follows:

Income source

2016/17

2017/18

Gym members and pay as you go gym users

£74,654/£12,396

£65,857/£7,400

Sports hall/racquets pay as you go

£28,878

£21,331

Sports hall/racquets class customers

£10,558

£13,393

Swimming pool pay as you go customers

£61,539

£44,514

Swimming pool class customers

£113,254

£13,035

Aerobics classes (both wet and dry combined)

£14,412

£12,372

Meeting minutes

Received 17 July 2019 and responded to 6 August 2019

We were asked to provide all the minutes in respect of meetings held in relation to the proposed closure of Friary Grange Leisure Centre. These are as follows:

Health and safety reports

Received 17 July 2019 responded to 9 August 2019

We were asked to provide a copy documents relating to the closure of Friary Grange Leisure Centre, including any health and safety reports and inspections – used or referred to in the above minutes and/or held by the council.

For documents that relate to the closure of Friary Grange Leisure Centre, visit our Friary Grange Leisure Centre documents page.

Councillors

Received 17 July 2019 and responded to 6 August 2019

We were asked to provide details of all councillors who noted an interest in the closure of Friary Grange Leisure Centre and details of those particular interests – pecuniary and non-pecuniary. This information is published in the minutes of the meetings/detailed in the register of interests for the relevant councillors, but for ease of access, we have also listed them below:

Cabinet on 9 July - noted interests

  • Cllr Smith recently resigned as a governor of Friary School
  • Cllr Strachan noted that a member of his family had used the cardiac rehab programme at FGLC (the cardiac rehab programme was not mentioned in the council report).

Full council on 21 July - noted interests

  • Cllr Jamie Checkland, chair of governors at The Friary School.
  • Cllr Colin Greatorex, Janet Eagland, Alistair Little, Staffordshire County Councillors.
  • Cllr Doug Pullen, Liz Little, Steve Norman, spouses of Staffordshire County Councillors.

Cost saving

Received 5 August 2019 and responded to 9 August 2019

We were asked to provide the details of the cost saving for the council since Freedom Leisure took over the running of Friary Grange Leisure Centre, including staff wages.

So far there have been no cost savings since Friary Grange Leisure Centre was outsourced to Freedom Leisure. Savings were expected in the long-term but not the short-term.

Joint user agreement

Received 18 September 2019

We were asked to provide the 1971 Friary Grange Leisure Centre joint user agreement between Staffordshire County Council and the then Lichfield City Council*. This City Council was abolished in 1974 when Lichfield District Council was established. *This is not the same body as the current Lichfield City Council, which was established in the 1980s.

You can download the joint user agreement which is now online.

Changes to contract with Freedom Leisure

The council can request a change to its contract with Freedom Leisure at any time. Whilst the change protocol does not specifically reference a reduction in service (such as the removal of the sports hall and all-weather pitch at Friary), it doesn’t preclude it. Where a change is made that could result in loss of revenue to Freedom Leisure, the contract states that the loss needs to be calculated using ‘reasonable economic assumptions’ and ‘in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles’. The net additional cost to the council, as outlined in the Friary Grange report to cabinet, resulting from the loss of the all-weather pitch and sports hall has been calculated based on income minus expenditure for these two elements. The calculation meets the test of reasonableness.

Clarification requests from Lichfield Swimming Club

Lichfield Swimming Club asked for clarification in relation to a number of lines in the Friary Grange Leisure Centre report. The responses we provided are as follows:

1) 3.27 - We don’t think it’s accurate to say there’s been a significant decrease in swim lessons over the last five years. Last year’s figures were unusually high and if they are discounted, numbers seem pretty static. - we are concerned this comment could mislead the decision makers. Whilst we note the point, we have included all of the figures. It is for people to interpret them as they wish, but clearly the 2018/19 figures are the lowest figures since 2014/15 for swimming lessons.

2) Page 10 - Can you please explain the figures. Where does the 294k for the long term replacement come from? And won’t that money be spent whether Friary closes or not? If it will, it seems odd to include it in the costs of option 2 -  it should appear for neither (or both). Please can you clarify for us? The £294k is the additional borrowing cost associated with a replacement facility and is stand-alone from both options.

3) Are the costings set out in the report based on a 6 year period because that’s how long you estimate a replacement will take? No, it is based on keeping Friary Grange Leisure Centre open for up to five years from April 2020.

4) What are the 708k operating costs set out in the report? I accept there may be operating costs, but is there a breakdown of them anywhere? The £708k is based on £85k additional subsidy to Freedom Leisure and an additional £50k for maintenance costs associated with compliance testing, and any costs for works as a result of this testing. The revenue implications table for option 2 on page 9 of the report shows the breakdown for each year from 2019/20 to 2024/25.