Council Plays Lifeguard To Drowning Fusion

I know it’s hot out there, but I think the heat has gone to the heads of the Executive Committee this week, when they’ve approved nearly £1/2m in funding to rescue the Fusion Leisure contract to reopen Clements Hall, Rayleigh Leisure Centre, The Mill Hall, Castle Rd Hall but not The Freight House (we all know why!)

I don’t even think Mitch could save this contract

I think they’ve jumped in the deep end and forgotten their armbands, they simply don’t appear to have had enough swimming lessons in contract procurement. I angst over the decision making as do most members because of course, we want to see our leisure facilities reopen, but we could be throwing money into a bottomless pit without any recourse.

During the meeting, I didn’t hear one member of the Executive ask what action the Council can take if Fusion doesn’t deliver on their promises – this worries me. Will Fusion simply take the money and then when the pot runs dry will they simply be back for more? Where will the financing end? Many private companies in the same industry haven’t had the luxury of taxpayer-funded bailouts – further scrutiny of the way these contracts are run is urgently needed.

Residents have been left out of pocket already with loyal members paying £10 a month for not a lot so it seems and now we are told that there was an option to ‘freeze’ payments, something members are reporting wasn’t communicated.

Now ALL residents will be ‘chipping in’ to keep the contract afloat. There are lots of unanswered questions around this contract, but with only one shot available to minority members, they will have to wait as I’m told that we won’t get the opportunity for further questions till at least October.

I’ve based alot of my feelings about Fusion and this leisure contract on my experience of this poorly managed contract from a communication I had with Rochford District Council officers in 2019, I asked why at Rayleigh Leisure Centre the coffee machine wasn’t working (they have a cafe, which appears closed most of the time). I was told they were sorting it, the next time I went in there, still no coffee. Now, it’s time that our Council woke up and smelt the coffee… time to exercise the right to get out of this contract and flex it’s muscles to get the contract back in shape for the whole community.

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About the author 

James Newport

Essex County Councillor for Rayleigh North, Rochford District Councillor for Downhall & Rawreth and Rayleigh Town Councillor for Sweyne.

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