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HomeSENCIOSevenoaks District Leisure: Councillors congratulate themselves on a job well done!

Sevenoaks District Leisure: Councillors congratulate themselves on a job well done!

West Kent Sport & Wellbeing were present at the Sevenoaks District Council (SDC) cabinet meeting yesterday afternoon and it will come as no surprise to hear that the council leader, Cllr. Peter Fleming, congratulated the council on their swift response into action to reopen the recently closed Sevenoaks Leisure Limited (Sencio) facilities. He even went as far as to thank the two councillors who sat on Sencio’s committee for their work and efforts.
 
Cllr. Lesley Dyball, who owns the portfolio for this area of the council and sits on the cabinet, apologised for her absence.
 
At the meeting, SDC’s cabinet agreed to earmark £1.83 million to cover costs associated with the reopening of the facilities under a different operator (likely to be Everyone Active who run Swanley Leisure Centre as they already have a working relationship with them), but this will only be for two years to give the council time to start an official procurement process.
 
Unfortunately, and although the meeting was broadcast live on YouTube, the council have not released the recording for repeat viewing.
 
The next meeting will be on April 4th and will be identical in regards to the agenda, except this meeting will need to be given approval by a majority of councillors, or at least those who are present. Whilst this is actually good news for the short term, it does not mean the facilities will reopen on April 5th.
 
The council are working with the insolvency practitioners Evelyn Partners, and they alone will determine when the council can reopen the facilities. The fact that it’s already been a week, and Sencio have still not officially entered liquidation just shows you how long this process could take. In fact, these processes can take anywhere from six to 24 months to complete.
 
With local elections looming in May, the council will of course want a swift outcome, but West Kent Sport & Wellbeing do not see this happening for at least another 10 maybe 12 weeks, which will take them past the voting day on May 4th. People may or may not wish to take this into account when casting their vote.
 
What do the council say?
Below is Sevenoaks District Council’s press release about the cabinet meeting which you can read in full. However, the fact they can’t even get their own rescue plan figure right is another alarm bell ringing around the district!
 
Council takes the first steps to reopen leisure centres and golf course
Sevenoaks District Council has set out the road map to reopen Edenbridge and Sevenoaks Leisure Centres and Lullingstone Park Golf Course at pace after their operator, Sencio Community Leisure, ceased trading last week.

At a specially convened meeting of the Council’s Cabinet this evening (Thursday 23 March 2023), it was recommended that the Council begin the process of appointing a new interim leisure provider to run the facilities for up to two years.

The Cabinet recommended that the Council earmark up to £2 million of funding towards the maintenance, safety and running costs of Edenbridge and Sevenoaks Leisure Centres and Lullingstone Park Golf Course under an interim leisure operator.

The Cabinet’s recommendations will now be debated at a special meeting of the Council on 4 April 2023.

Alongside this, the Council is working with Sencio and its insolvency practitioner to regain possession of the centres. A major concern for the Council is the condition its buildings have been left in by Sencio, including essential monitoring, health and safety and security.

However, with the continued help and co-operation of all parties, the Council believes the centres could reopen with a new operator in a matter of weeks.

Sarah Robson, the Council’s Chief Officer for People and Places, says: “We are one-hundred percent committed to reopening the leisure facilities as soon as possible and with the Cabinet recommending funding and the process for appointing a new leisure provider, we have made significant progress.”

If you would like to join the discussions, please head to our public Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1338056143435327.
 
The link to yesterday’s SDC Cabinet meeting’s agenda can be downloaded here or you can read the agenda below.
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