New £40 Million Leisure Contract Decided This Month

THE Council’s commitment to invest more than £40 million in modern new leisure facilities for Reading – including two brand new swimming pools – will be cemented this month when a new leisure partner is selected.

Details of the two bids under consideration are outlined in a Policy Committee report published today (Jan 10th). ( On Monday 20th January, councillors will consider the award of a 25-year contract to design, build, operate and run Reading’s leisure service to a preferred bidder. The Policy Committee report marks the end of a robust Council procurement process, supported by independent specialist leisure consultants and with advice from Sport England, and which included input from local clubs and user groups who provided feedback on their aspirations for what new facilities should provide. The contract includes:
  • A flagship modern new-build leisure centre at Rivermead, incorporating a new competition standard pool with provision for diving;
  • A modern new community pool at Palmer Park linked to existing sports facilities;
  • Improvements to existing leisure centres at South Reading and Meadway;
  • The introduction of membership and customer schemes, allowing access to every single Council sports facility;
  • A drive to improve health and wellbeing across the borough, with targeted activities to help reduce health inequalities.
Cllr Hoskin

Graeme Hoskin, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, said:

“We are now in a position to decide on our successful leisure partner who, working closely will the Council, will transform leisure facilities in Reading, including building modern new swimming pools at both Palmer Park and at Rivermead.

“We were fortunate to receive extremely strong and credible bids from very professional and well-respected leisure providers. We have rigorously weighed up these options and we will now make the final decision on which bid will deliver the best possible outcome for Reading’s residents. “As the report sets out, this ambitious project includes plans for the long-term replacement for Central Pool on the Rivermead site with a flagship new-build leisure centre, including dedicated diving provision, and we are committed to opening a brand-new community pool at Palmer Park, linked to existing sports facilities. The report also refers to a further option for a 6-lane pool at Palmer Park, which Councillors will consider at the Policy meeting on 20th January and which the Administration is minded to support. “As well as the improved facilities across all leisure sites, the new leisure offer will enable the introduction of membership and customer schemes allowing access to all Council facilities, which is an option often requested by residents. There will also be a drive to increase activity, health and well-being across the borough, with targeted work in the community to reach those in most need, and work towards reducing health inequalities.” The report makes a recommendation to award the contract to Bidder A - the highest scorer in the tender evaluation, concluding that Bidder A offers the best offer for Reading’s needs, including the quality of the overall designs for Rivermead and Palmer Park, the sustainability ambitions and a well-established partnership with an experienced building contractor. Following the Policy Committee decision on 20th January, the preferred leisure operator, after a mobilisation period, will implement their detailed proposals and build the new facilities, as well as operating existing facilities. The contract will officially begin from Spring 2020.