New leisure trust ‘Vivacity‘ to axe 30 staff

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PETERBOROUGH’s newly-formed culture and leisure trust has announced it is to slash 30 jobs – just two months after it launched.

But bosses of Vivacity, which took over the running of the city’s arts facilities from Peterborough City Council, said the move was necessary to “weather future storms”.

Yesterday, the organisation began consulting with staff – around a 300-strong team – regarding proposals to axe the roles.

Vivacity chiefs hope that the 10 per cent reduction can be achieved by a combination of voluntary redundancies and other measures to minimise compulsory redundancies, although these have not been ruled out at this stage.

Discussions with staff and trade union representatives began yesterday.

Vivacity, which launched on May 1, includes many services that were previously managed by Peterborough City Council, including the Key Theatre, Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery, libraries and sports facilities. In March, the city council’s cabinet voted for the handover.

Cllr Matthew Lee said with pending funding cuts, there was a chance the council could lose some of the services and transferring them to a trust, could ensure their survival.

Vivacity’s chief executive, Kevin Tighe, said trimming its workforce would help fill what he described as an “£800,000 efficiencies gap”, which will have to be met with cuts or by increasing income.

He said: “We want to be here for the long-term, providing excellent cultural and leisure facilities for the people of Peterborough. These proposals are being made to enable us to be better placed to weather any future storms. Despite this announcement, creating Vivacity was absolutely the right thing to do and our aspirations remain unchanged.

“This was no surprise in that we want to grow our business and look to reduce costs, because our business plan had a section marked ‘efficiencies’. We knew from the start these would have to be made.”

He said the roles that would be cut had not yet been determined but they were asking for people to express interest in voluntary redundancies.

There will be a series of meetings with staff to gauge their views.

He added: “Our aspiration is to improve the cultural activities offered in Peterborough. Anything we do will go towards that aim. In the future, we will be looking to grow, but currently, we can’t achieve that based on the resources we have. We have an efficiencies gap of £800,000 and a big chunk of that will come from the reduction of jobs. But we also have other measures to grow the business, including supporting gym membership, letting out facilities and sponsorship.”

City MP Stewart Jackson said: “It’s sad that any jobs are being lost and I hope compulsory redundancies are kept to an absolute minimum. At a time when we are trying to build up leisure and tourism in the city, it’s disappointing jobs are being lost.”

The agreement at the cabinet meeting in March means the trust will run services for the next 25 years, although Cllr Lee said if it failed the contract could be cancelled. Of the trust’s £4.78 million budget, £4.51 million will be provided by the council, with the remainder to be provided by an increase in residents using services.

FACTFILE... on Vivacity

AT the end of April, Peterborough City Council handed over the management of its libraries, museum, theatre and sports centres to Vivacity – a newly created leisure and culture trust – whose aim is to “make Peterborough a better place to live, work and play.”

It is an independent, not-for-profit organisation, made up of a 300 strong team of staff, as well as volunteers.

The trust’s goals are to manage and improve facilities, to encourage people to try new things, and to ensure that those living in the city enjoy the experience at each and every one of the venues, events and activities they run.

Vivacity will also support the many clubs and societies in the city. Plans include carrying out a £3 million redevelopment of Peterborough Museum and investing £100,000 into the gym and changing facilities at the Regional Pool.