Funding cut for Peterborough leisure provider Vivacity as it is told to do more for vulnerable residents

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The provider of leisure and cultural services in Peterborough has had its funding cut and been told to do more for vulnerable residents.

The city council is proposing to cut Vivacity’s budget by hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, although it insists this will not affect services such as gyms, the arts or libraries which are run by the not-for-profit organisation.

The Lido in Peterborough which is run by Vivacity

The Lido in Peterborough which is run by Vivacity

The cut is part of a series of budget measures announced on Friday to tackle the council’s £33 million deficit.

Leisure and cultural services were transferred to Vivacity nine years ago, including gyms, libraries, swimming pools, the Key Theatre and the museum.

The council’s budget document states: “Vivacity has grown over the nine years since it launched and has been able to secure additional investment from other non-council sources, as well as income through a wide range of fee-paying services.

“It has always been our shared ambition that, in time, Vivacity would be able to diversify its business to such a level that it was no longer reliant on council funding for its discretionary services.

“As a result of this shared ambition, we have worked closely with Vivacity to propose a series of opportunities that continue to reduce their reliance on council funding, saving us £357,000 in 2020/21.”

The saving is expected to be the same in 2021/22, before reducing to £307,000 the year after.

The council insisted, though, there will not be a reduction in services, while its budget reports adds: “We have agreed that there are opportunities and more flexible ways of using the council-owned buildings from which Vivacity deliver their services, that Vivacity should play a bigger role in helping some of our most vulnerable residents by, for example, improving their health and wellbeing through commissioned activity, and that there are some commercial or income generating opportunities that could be realised sooner if we work in partnership with Vivacity.”

Vivacity has previously taken over the running of Bretton Water Park and St George’s Hydrotherapy Pool after council cuts left both at risk.

It is also co-organising the new Firework Fantasia event next month after the loss of Firework Fiesta.

A Vivacity spokesperson said: “Vivacity fully appreciates the financial challenge the council faces. We have been working closely with them as our principal partner to help the council achieve a balanced budget position as part of the council’s budget consultation process.

“We remain focussed on exploring opportunities with the council and other key partner organisations both in the short and longer term that support the sustained growth of Vivacity that both protects and positively enhances the cultural and leisure offer for the city.

“We will not provide any further comment until the formal public consultation period has concluded and proposals confirmed.”

The council’s budget proposals also include removing a position which manages its contract with Vivacity.

The budget report said: “The council regards Vivacity as the expert in the services it provides and therefore requires less strategic oversight from the council.”

Residents can have their say on the budget proposals either at www.peterborough.gov.uk/budget, or by picking up a hard copy of the budget from the Town Hall in Bridge Street or at any city library from Monday.

A series of articles on the budget proposals will be published online at https://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/news/politics over the weekend.

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