The Lead Councillor for Environment and Regulatory Services introduced the item, stating that the Council’s contract with HQ Theatres Guildford Limited to operate and manage G Live had been extended until 30 September 2024. The meeting was reminded that the G Live Annual Report and the minutes of the Annual Report presentation were attached as appendices to the report submitted to the Committee. The Lead Councillor for Environment and Regulatory Services stated that the eleventh contract year was considered a recovery period – impacted by Covid with the emergence of the Omnicron variant, plus reduced attendance levels in some areas as customers gained confidence in returning to entertainment venues.
The Lead Councillor for Environment and Regulatory Services stated that the members of the overview and scrutiny G Live working group attending the Annual Report presentation by Trafalgar had recognised the challenges facing the industry and were pleased overall by the performance of the operator. He declared that the operator had reported a surplus of £276,931, which meant the Council received £55,386.
A number of points were made in the ensuing discussion:
RESOLVED: That the report submitted to the Committee be endorsed.
(II) That the operator and Council’s Leisure Client Team be commended for the relative success of the 2021-22 contract year.
The Lead Councillor for Environment introduced the item and provided a brief overview of the tenth contract year. The Committee was advised that due to the pandemic the G Live venue had been operational for less than six weeks of the contract year; the Lead Councillor for Environment confirmed that G Live was used as a vaccination centre for the remainder of the contract year to deliver 175,000 jabs.
The Lead Councillor for Environment referred to the Key Performance Indicators within the report submitted to the Committee and indicated that the restricted operation of the venue due to COVID-19 had affected performance significantly. The meeting was advised of the acquisition of HQ Theatres by Trafalgar Entertainment and the extension of the current contract for a three-year period at a reduced yearly management fee of £275,000.
The Lead Councillor for Entertainment advised that 2020-21 had resulted in a loss of almost £200,000 to the operator. In addition, the Lead Councillor for Environment advised that the builder of G Live had undertaken remedial works during the year, including correcting defects discovered during a routine inspection.
The Head of Culture, Heritage and Leisure Services advised the meeting that due to restrictions on G Live operating it was inappropriate to compare the tenth contract year with previous years.
In response to questions from a Committee member, the Head of Culture, Heritage and Leisure Services advised the meeting that HQ Theatres received a grant payment of £20,000 a month for hosting the vaccination centre and he indicated that the cloakroom had now re-opened.
In reply to a question, the Head of Culture, Heritage and Leisure Services informed the Committee of the reasons that the contract had been extended for a three-year period, including the uncertainty created by the pandemic and the need for confidence to return to the marketplace before the operation of the venue was re-tendered. The Head of Culture, Heritage and Leisure Services advised that the baseline subsidy for running G Live in the extended three-year period was £275,000 per annum.
The Head of Culture, Heritage and Leisure Services was asked about improving the catering performance at G Live and the potential impact of higher fuel costs. He stated that HQ Theatres had proposed expanding the catering at G Live, including the installation of a finishing kitchen and increasing restaurant capacity, and that higher energy costs would be met by the operator.
The Head of Culture, Heritage and Leisure Services informed the Committee that hospitality income did have a direct impact on the surplus that was divided between the operator and the Council.
In response to a question, the Head of Culture, Heritage and Leisure Services advised that he was not aware of any customer complaints about changes in car parking charges.
The Chair thanked the Lead Councillor for Environment and the Head of Culture, Heritage and Leisure Services.
RESOLVED: That the report submitted to the Committee be commended.
The Lead Councillor for Environment introduced the item and provided a brief overview of the ninth contract year. The Committee was advised that due to the pandemic the G Live venue was operational for less than six months of the contract year. The Lead Councillor for Environment indicated that 2019-20 produced a surplus that resulted in almost £60k being returned to the Council. He thanked the members of the overview and scrutiny G Live working group for their work and praised the role of G Live as a vaccination centre.
A member of the overview and scrutiny G Live working group, present at the meeting as a member of the Committee, confirmed that the venue appeared to be on for a record year until the pandemic hit.
A member of the Committee asked about the advisability of re-tendering the contract for running G Live during the pandemic and the other options available with the current contract with HQ Theatres Guildford Limited (HQT) expiring in 2021. In reply, the Lead Councillor for Environment indicated that the existing contract could be extended by up to five years.
In reply to a question, the Leisure Services Manager assured the meeting of the financial viability of HQT and indicated he had no current concerns for their cash flow or stability.
The Contracts Officer outlined the climate change implications of the report to the meeting. She informed the Committee of past and future plastic-free initiatives at G Live and advised of the introduction of LED lighting. With reference to a new contract for the operation of the venue, the meeting heard a suggestion that the Council be able to measure and monitor the environmental impact of the operator. A member of the Committee suggested that once the coronavirus restrictions were lifted it would be worthwhile using the foyer and other areas of the venue to promote environmental impacts.
With reference to a new contract, the Lead Councillor for Environment suggested a prioritisation activity for events at G Live could be undertaken at an executive advisory board meeting.
A member of the Committee questioned the time it had taken HQT to develop G Live as a successful business. In response, the Contracts Officer advised that establishing a new venue in the marketplace had been expected to take a number of years. The Leisure Services Manager indicated that HQT had improved performance year on year and suggested the operator had exceeded expectations held at the outset of the contract period.
With reference to events at G Live that had been postponed due to the pandemic, the Committee heard that a high percentage of customers had either retained tickets or exchanged them for gift vouchers.
The Leisure Services Manager confirmed that the use of the venue as a vaccination site had been funded by COVID-19 recovery grants from Surrey County Council; there had been no cost to the venue or the NHS.
In response to questions, the meeting heard from the Leisure Services Manager that a defect had ... view the full minutes text for item 51