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Exploring how best to sustain culture and leisure attractions

Swansea Council's drive to sustain the city's leisure and cultural attractions for the benefit of residents is about to take a step forward.

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Interest will very soon be invited from third parties, including not-for-profit and community-based companies and organisations, as part of a formal procurement process. 

The Council will shortly want to hear from organisations with similar values and a proven track record in delivering quality cultural services for the community. This will enable the council to better understand whether attractions including the museum service, Plantasia and community leisure centres can be sustained or generate investment for improvements through new partnerships and models of delivery.

This latest step will follow an exercise earlier this year where the council tested the aspiration in sharing responsibility for cultural facilities by inviting informal expressions of interest from third parties.

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Enterprise, Development and Regeneration, said: "The major cuts to funding we're experiencing are not of our making but, like other councils across the country, we have to make significant savings, while prioritising vital services like education and social care.

"That means, like many other council services, our cultural services will have to make considerable savings too.

"But this doesn't mean closing our cultural and leisure attractions - that's not what we want, nor is it what the people of Swansea want. This is why we're exploring innovative, different ways of running these services in future, potentially in partnership with external organisations like leisure organisations, trusts, community groups or other public sector partners, while protecting jobs and continuing to give Swansea residents and visitors to the city value for money."

Cllr Mark Child, Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Healthy City and Wellbeing, said: "Seeking formal bids from external organisations will allow us to gauge how sustainable and viable alternative business plans are when compared with transformed, in-house models of delivery here at the council, or setting up a new, not-for-profit company. Every scenario involves reducing the council's revenue costs, but no decisions have been made, nor will they be until we have clear evidence of benefit and long-term value for money in the options.

"This will simply be the next stage of a process that will ensure we get it right for the benefit of Swansea residents.

"We'll continue to keep our staff and residents updated throughout this process as we look to minimise the impact on our teams and the public. Any recommendations that arise from this process will be referred to Cabinet for final decisions."

The process is part of the council's Sustainable Swansea: Fit for the Future programme that's looking to guide how the council makes inroads into its major budget deficit, while protecting as many services as possible.

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