Lewisham’s mayor and cabinet is set to award a leisure management contract behind closed doors next week (August 12) in an unscheduled meeting. 

The borough’s leisure facilities are currently managed on behalf of the council by two contractors, 1Life for the Downham Health and Leisure Centre and Fusion Lifestyle for the rest. 

The entire meeting will be held in private, with the only information available to the public that a decision on “permission to award a leisure management contract” will be made.  

The decision will be made behind closed doors “due to commercial sensitives” being discussed, a spokesperson for the council said.  

This in itself is not unusual, but the meeting was also not scheduled to take place in the key decision plan, and appeared to suddenly emerge on the calendar this week. No comment was made to explain the lateness of the addition.

The Department for Communities and Local Government published a report in 2014 which said that councils must give 28 days warning if they intend to hold a meeting in private.

It states: “A private meeting can only be held without 28 days’ notice after the agreement of the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee has been obtained that the meeting is urgent and cannot reasonably be delayed.

“In the absence of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Chairman, the permission of the Council Chairman (or, in their absence, the Vice Chairman) must be obtained.

“If this agreement is granted the council must publish a notice about why the meeting is urgent and cannot be deferred.

“This notice must be available at its offices and on their website.

“If agreement is not given then the meeting must either be held in public, or the council must comply with the 28 day notice requirements.” 

A council spokesperson said: “As is standard procedure all part 2 reports are discussed in private due to commercial sensitives.  

“The mayor and cabinet decision will be subject to the same scrutiny process all reports go through and will be discussed at (overview and scrutiny) business panel August 18.”