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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Does anyone have a Daily Telegraph subscription so I could read this: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/06/26/how-leisure-charity...

The lovely Park Road centre is falling into a disgraceful state of repair: Indoor swimming pool has been shut, outdoor one heating and chlorine levels up and down, indoor gym facilities broken and major leaks that one of freelance teachers had to catch with buckets while running a class, freelancers have been told they can’t work, one of long-standing staff members has disappeared, management noticeable by its absence, indoor showers shut last week as “steam setting off fire alarm”, flooring in a shoddy state….  Feels like we need to ask questions but can’t bring self to subscribe to Daily Telegraph and deal with unsubscribe hassle to find out more.  

Of course if someone is already on the case, please say!

Thanks, Siân 

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This is the only gym where you get special rates for all sort of issues. 65 plus are free for certain times which is essential for many pensioners who really don’t have much money. Many of them also use the pool which is great for their health. I mentioned the awful problems with the pools and especially the cancellation of the children’s lessons in my earlier post. The situation is appalling for everyone.

Totally agree. It was a shambles when I swam there a few years ago, shockingly managed back then, and couldn’t wait until London fields reopened. So many times, I would set my alarm to get there early for a swim in limited opening hours, only to find the pool(outdoor)  wasn’t open due to life guards not at work. Even though it was three times the distance, but run by better who don’t look after the staff that well, but do run amazing facilities, I would never plan to venture back to the park rd 

Better run the pool at North Finchley and it's great.

If you do a search on Fusion Lifestyle it brings back list of problems right across the country.  Their business model seems to be an attractive one - a charity that ploughs back profits into development- but that hasn’t stopped what seems like an endless stream of negative press about them.  I think Haringey entered into a 20 year contract with them in 2012.  I would imagine that the issue for them, and other councils who use them to provide leisure facilities, is what the break clause looks like and the likelihood of anyone else coming forward to bid for the contract.  A case for bringing the service back in-house?

Totally agree Michael. They brought the New River back in house.

Accountability remains with the council. They obviously haven't been monitoring whatever performance measures were put in place when the service was outsourced. 

Unfortunately, a year of lockdown has created an atmosphere of nonchalance, indifference and unaccountability in many of our public services. 

It is always disappointing when the facilities at Tottenham Green are not available but I'd like to give a shout out to the lifeguards that are always welcoming and who pick up a broom or mop between guarding sessions and to one of the regular cleaners Mariama who always does a great job including jet washing the entire changing room wall tiles one morning. 

Just for information..Tottenham Green is closed today due to a power cut! 

Isn’t this an extreme example of the overall impact of 12 years of Tory government and the longer-term orthodoxy that everything must be privatised rather than kept under public control? For decades, local councils have been forced to divest themselves of masses of in-house services, from libraries, pools and leisure facilities to rubbsh collection and architects’ departments, under constant onslaught from central government and — for the last decade — a deliberate attempt by Westminster to strangle local government by endless finance cuts.

Once a service is privatised, it’s no longer accountable to local people, and in so many cases councils have been led into commercial deals that are so punitive to terminate that they’re effectively unbreakable (cf PFI deals for schools and hospitals that are in many cases almost bankrupting the institutions themselves). Haringey is obviously not alone in contracting with a private operator (charity status notwithstanding) that isn’t fit for purpose, but wresting back control will presumably be unaffordable, especially after 12 years of cuts.

Barnet — now Labour-controlled — is pioneering the reclaiming of public services from private operators (Crapita, in their case), so perhaps Haringey can be persuaded to follow suit, but I daresay the potential legal costs will be a major disincentive for any action, unless the council can prove conclusively that Fusion have broken the contract terms and should forfeit their rights to continue.

Not really Don. It's nothing to do with the Tories. It just shows the lack of competence in commercial procurement among some local government authorities. This is not surprising when councillors are voted in purely on the basis of which party they belong to and not whether they have experience running a business or other organisation. They need that experience in order to oversee the work of authority staff and to know what questions to ask. Unfortunately it is, collectively, our fault.

Brian — Well, yes, I agree about the lack of councillor expertise, but isn’t that what the officers are supposed to bring to bear (councillors, after all, don’t have to have a business background — one of mine is from the charity sector)? I’d still contend that decades of pressure to outsource services, plus relentless financial squeezing that’s reduced staff numbers and prevented local authorities from paying competitive salaries, have played a large part.

It’s clear that developers, for instance, run rings round most councils because they can afford expensive specialist lawyers who outclass local authority lawyers (or LAs can’t afford to buy in the equivalent skills), so it’s equally likely that Fusion have contracts with punitive break clauses built in to protect them that Haringey couldn’t, or didn’t, manage to get omitted.

I’m not sure how susceptible this problem is to changing the way we vote in local elections; nor that a council entirely composed of business people would necessarily be beneficial overall or healthy for democracy.



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