Agenda and minutes
Venue: Council Chamber, Argyle Road, Sevenoaks. View directions
Contact: Democratic Services 01732 227165 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reasons for Urgency
The meeting had been called as a matter of urgency in accordance with Section 100B(4) of the Local Government Act 1972. The Chairman had agreed to accept the urgent matter which had missed the statutory despatch deadline, but had been circulated.
The matter was urgent as the Council needed to agree a way forward with a new leisure operator to ensure protection of its leisure facilities in the District.
Declarations of interest
Any interests not already registered
There were no additional declarations of interest.
The Chairman set out that the report, which updated Members on the provision of leisure services in the Sevenoaks District following the appointment of an Insolvency Practitioner by Sencio Community Leisure (Sencio) and to agree a way forward for the reopening of leisure facilities in the District. Sevenoaks District Council own three leisure facilities and a golf course, operated and maintained under contracted lease agreements. The Council was the landlord for these sites and therefore the Council’s influence over Sencio was limited to the lease and funding arrangements it had in place.
As a leisure management company, Sencio operated as a business with its own Board of Trustees and Management Team and was governed and traded independently and in its own right. Sencio’s Board Members were representatives of the local community and comprised of persons with a broad range of skills, likely to contribute to the company’s success. The day-to-day management, including business and financial planning was delegated to the Chief Executive of Sencio.
The Chief Officer for People & Places advised that as recently as January this year, Sencio’s Senior Management had presented to the Council’s Scrutiny Committee, noting their positive performance plans for the future. It now appeared that Sencio had accumulated significant liabilities in recent months, exacerbated by an insufficient cash flow since January.
In March 2023, Sencio’s Management Team and its Board Members made the difficult decision to appoint an Insolvency Practitioner to act as Administrator as the Trust considered itself unable to continue trading when it realised it could no longer meet its financial liabilities obligations for March 2023.
Once provided with the full scale of the finical position by Sencio’s Senior Management Team, the Board immediately stepped in and made the urgent decision to cease trading, appointing Evelyn Partners as Insolvency Practitioner, advising staff, customers and suppliers of their decision on 17 March 2023.
The Chief Officer expressed how the Council’s thoughts and concerns were with Sencio’s staff, customers and suppliers impacted by the decision. Leisure was incredibly important in helping to connect communities bringing people together through sport and physical activities. There were many clubs and groups, businesses and local people that depended on the facilities being open.
Members were advised that the Councils main priority was to gain access to the leisure premises at Sevenoaks, Edenbridge and Lullingstone from the Insolvency Practitioner and to open those facilities under a new operator as a matter of urgency. The Council, wished to limit the time the centres were closed to avoid existing users joining other centres and the negative health impacts on residents and local communities.
Due to the community need and extreme urgency to activate the Council’s leisure facilities as soon as practical, it was intended to let a shorter-term contract rather than undergo a full procurement process at this time.
The Council was actively engaging with the insolvency practitioner appointed by Sencio, seeking to negotiate and enable a smooth transition to an interim operator. At the same time, Officers ... view the full minutes text for item 108.
IMPLEMENTATION OF DECISIONS
This Notice was published on 24 March 2023. The decisions contained in Minute 108 are references to Council.