Running of council-owned sporting facilities set to be taken over by not-for-profit social enterprise in April
FROM April 1 a new not-for profit social enterprise will take over the running of council-owned sporting facilities in North East Lincolnshire.
Lincs Inspire, whose board comprises seven elected councillors, will eventually be responsible for delivering £10 million worth of leisure, sport, tourism and cultural services on behalf of the local authority.
The Grimsby Telegraph asked council deputy leader Mick Burnett, the portfolio holder for tourism and culture, why the new company has been established.
QWhat is the purpose of the new company Lincs Inspire?
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A The over-arching intention behind the development of Lincs Inspire is to create an organisation with a very clear focus on supporting the key priority of improving health and wellbeing. This is a holding position that enables the council to transfer existing leisure services from its current contractor into a new not for profit organisation.
The new company will drive forward the delivery of leisure, sport, tourism and culture in North East Lincolnshire. A not-for-profit social enterprise can be much more flexible in the way that services operate and will be able to work more closely with all sectors, including private businesses and community groups, to provide facilities our communities want and deserve.
QWhy has the council decided to form a new company to run leisure services instead of managing them itself?
A For the reasons above, we wanted a flexible model that enabled us to do things better, more effectively, and to be able to explore new ways of working. As a holding position this enables the council to continue to develop opportunities for a more mixed economy approach to sport, leisure, tourism and culture.
We want to create a vibrant sector that is not wholly reliant on public funding. Lincs Inspire will provide the flexibility needed to unlock new opportunities, including joint ventures, mixed public and private sector delivery and great opportunities for third sector and community involvement, too.
Lincs Inspire provides a vehicle for change, and as a not-for-profit organisation any profit generated will be reinvested in the services it delivers.
QWhat are the advantages of using a social enterprise as opposed to a private company such as current leisure provider SLM?
A The social enterprise model of management means that Lincs Inspire Ltd will be a not-for-profit company that embraces both social and environmental values.
Lincs Inspire will operate independently of the council for the delivery of all day-to-day services and activities. It will actively seek to work with local providers and, where possible, provide local opportunities for training and development, alongside encouraging residents to lead more active, healthy and fulfilling lifestyles. Any profit generated through Lincs Inspire will be reinvested into the company to help to achieve these aims.
QHow will this new company be held democratically accountable?
A As an independent company, Lincs Inspire will operate through a board of directors for all day-to-day operations and decision making.
The board has been appointed and includes seven councillors. The board has appointed a general manager, Craig Moran, to head up Lincs Inspire and together they will drive the company forward and develop services and facilities that are efficient, effective and above all, value for money.
As a wholly owned subsidiary of North East Lincolnshire Council, Lincs Inspire will be required to report through to Cabinet and scrutiny on its performance and achievements. As the company is funded by the council it is still required to follow all the relevant governance associated with public finance and procurement and, therefore, will be producing annual accounts and financial forecasts.
QHow will the new company be funded?
A As noted above, the council will continue to fund the services included within Lincs Inspire. Given the tough financial challenges we face, there will also be a requirement for Lincs Inspire to contribute to the overall pressure on council budgets. The benefit for Lincs Inspire is that as an independent company they can explore a wide range of options to achieve either savings or increased income generation. The newly appointed board of directors will be considering how savings can be achieved in the coming weeks.
QOne reader has contacted the Grimsby Telegraph to ask if the council will have shares in the new company. Can you clarify the situation?
A Lincs Inspire, being a wholly owned council company, is a company limited by guarantee.
The company will appoint at least one member as defined by and for the purposes of the Companies Act and (at least) one member will have a nominal £1 shareholding.