Reading: Council appoints new operator for leisure services

Law firm Blake Morgan has supported Reading Council in achieving its milestone to appoint a new developer and operator for its leisure service.

Reading councillors have appointed Greenwich Leisure as the preferred bidder to design, build, operate and maintain Reading’s leisure service. The contract – which will last 25 years – comes as part of the council’s commitment to invest more than £40 million in new and existing facilities across Reading, including two major swimming facilities at Palmer Park and Rivermead as well as wholesale upgrades to existing services.

Blake Morgan’s local authority team provided advice to Reading Council on the procurement of the new provider and oversaw procurement and contract development. The firm is now advising on the next steps to contract completion, to enable the mobilisation period in spring 2020.

Penny Rinta-Suksi, a partner and head of Local Government England at Blake Morgan, said: “Reading Council is working extremely hard to overhaul and improve its leisure service, which includes delivering a number of high-quality modern facilities. The new DBOM contract we’ve worked with Reading Council to develop will safeguard the council’s investments and allow them to not only deliver best-in-class new facilities but operate them successfully and efficiently long into the future.

“We’re delighted to have worked with the council on the procurement process to date and pleased that this has resulted in such a positive outcome. We very much hope that Greenwich Leisure delivers on Reading Council’s vision for leisure services locally.”

Kate Graefe, assistant director of procurement and contracts at Reading Council, said: “The experience and expertise of Blake Morgan in this market place has been a core component in enabling the Council to move to the next phase of delivering on our promise to residents to make a significant improvement in the quality of our leisure offer across the borough.

“We can now be confident we have the means to move to a more holistic service that supports addressing health inequalities, as well as taking positive steps to deliver on our carbon reduction commitments through the investment incorporated into the bid. Blake Morgan have truly helped us deliver a firm foundation for the success of this contract and I look forward to completing the next phase of the project with them.”

Blake Morgan’s local government solicitors advise a wide range of clients, including Hampshire County Council, Reading Borough Council and Chiltern District Council, as well as the Department of Health.