Enable Takes On Council Services

New social enterprise will run sport, events and cultural activities

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Putney School of Art
Putney School of Art. Pic: Google Street View

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Wandsworth Borough has handed over some of the leisure services in the borough to a newly formed social enterprise company.

The newly established leisure services staff mutual ‘Enable’ is now responsible for the day-to-day management of a range of functions to do with events, culture and sport.

Enable, which has more than 100 directly employed staff plus more than 200 part-time and seasonal employees has today taken over responsibility for managing services like Putney School of Art, the Tooting Bec Common athletics track, the annual fireworks display in Battersea Park, the arts service, the events and filming team and the leisure and sport team.

The move does not include leisure centres in the borough which will continue to be run by Places for People which is also a social enterprise.

Over the course of their four year contract with the council, Enable will have the freedom to launch new services and improve and enhance existing ones and bid for other contracts.

The Council claim that the new management arrangement will save an estimated £2.65m over the next four years as well as bringing in a share of additional revenues generated by the company.

The change comes as part of a wider reorganisation that will see remaining staff from both Wandsworth and neighbouring Richmond Council combine to create a new single workforce serving both boroughs.

The two councils have already unveiled a new smaller senior management team, which will be led by a single chief executive. They say that this will deliver savings of around £1.5m a year by reducing senior executive posts by 30 per cent. The creation of a single workforce serving both authorities is a key element of plans published by both councils earlier this year which aim to deliver greater efficiencies, share expertise and save public money.

Cabinet member for community services Cllr Jonathan Cook said, “Here in Wandsworth we believe our staff are better placed than most to rise to this challenge and adopt these new ways of thinking. This is why we have embraced the idea of staff mutuals. No-one is better placed to identify where efficiencies and innovations can be made than the people who are already doing the job. They know better than anyone what works and what doesn’t, what is worth doing and what isn’t."

The Putney Society has responded cautiously to the change. In their most recent Bulletin they comment, "The Society's Open Spaces Panel has already been concerned about declining standards of maintenance in Wandsworth Park in recent times. So, what will the new arrangements really mean? Better or worse care of our Putney open spaces? We are trying to find out."

Greenwich Leisure Ltd. was a social enterprise run by staff from another borough which took over the running of Wandsworth's library services in 2013. It is hoped that Enable will be able to win contracts in a similar way.

October 2, 2015