Update: The council is not going to release the name of the successful bidder until next week, despite it being possible the contract has come into effect. 

A spokesperson said: “The council will publish and communicate its final decision in respect of the leisure services contract as soon as it is reasonably practicable, we expect to be in a position to share more details next week.”

Lewisham’s decision to award a leisure contract in private was made under urgency procedures “used in emergencies”, it was revealed last night (August 18) at an overview and scrutiny business panel meeting. 

Mayor and cabinet awarded the contract behind closed doors last week (August 12) in an unscheduled meeting and has yet to release the contractor’s name.   

The contract comes into effect today (August 19) if the business panel did not call in the decision last night, which is likely, as though the result has not been published the call-in meeting of mayor and cabinet scheduled for next week has been cancelled.

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.   

Fusion recently warned staff they were at risk of redundancy, while trade union Unite is calling for leisure contracts to be brought in-house to protect workers.   

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

The decision was made behind closed doors “due to commercial sensitivities” being discussed.  

But 28 days-notice must be given if a cabinet meeting is held in private – it was only yesterday that it emerged that the meeting was held as a matter of urgency after a councillor pressed officers about the issue. It still remains unclear as to why. 

News Shopper:

Cllr Hall (TL) asks why 28 days notice wasn't given

Councillor Alan Hall said: “When we have a new decision to take at cabinet meetings, it should be on the key decision plan and I could not see the award of the leisure contract put on to the key decision plan.  

“The last meeting of the mayor and cabinet was entirely private and there are special rules about holding cabinet meetings in private, there should be 28 days-notice and objections should be considered […] I just wanted to know whether or not all of these procedures have been carried out?” 

Clerk to the council Kevin Flaherty said urgency procedures, followed in the case of an emergency, were used.  

He said: “I can certainly confirm that the item didn’t appear in the key decision plan, therefore the urgency procedures were used.   

“The report definitely wasn’t advertised 28 days in advance and the notice to the public to object to it being private wasn’t published either.   

“But for both of those failures there are urgency procedures […] used in the case of emergency.   

“For an item which hasn’t been notified as private, that needs the permission from the chair of overview and scrutiny and officers assure me that was obtained […]  

“In terms of the key decision plan failure a notification takes place to the chair of the business panel but permission isn’t required and a notice is published to say the mayor is going to take the decision, which did in fact occur.”