Fusion Lifestyle slammed as 'dreadful organisation' that has run Bedford leisure centres 'extremely poorly'

“Don’t use Fusion next time around” warns councillor
Concerns have previously been raised over dirty facilities at Oasis Beach Pool in Bedford, managed by Fusion Lifestyle.Concerns have previously been raised over dirty facilities at Oasis Beach Pool in Bedford, managed by Fusion Lifestyle.
Concerns have previously been raised over dirty facilities at Oasis Beach Pool in Bedford, managed by Fusion Lifestyle.

Fusion Lifestyle is a “dreadful organisation” that has managed Bedford Borough Council’s leisure provision “extremely poorly”, a councillor has said.

Councillor Graeme Coombes was reacting to a report on the council’s review to recommission its leisure services in 2024, which was presented to the Environment and Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee last week (Thursday, March 2).

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“We as a committee have spent a long time holding Fusion’s feet to the fire,” the Conservative ward councillor for Wilshamstead said.

“They are a dreadful organisation, they have managed our leisure provision extremely poorly.

“There was a national exposé in the Daily Telegraph about 12 months ago saying how poor they were.

“What I would like to see as a member of the Scrutiny Committee is to have the performance data to show how Fusion has performed over time, so that we can scrutinise that.

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“If I could give one word of advice, that we don’t use Fusion next time around.

“I really feel we are being let down by not having Fusion here in person to answer for their performance. Because many of the things that we have criticised over the years haven’t gone away.

“You still hear the same criticisms from users, about unclean facilities not managed properly, and it really is only right that we scrutinise Fusion on that.

“Why are Fusion not here in person? Why have they been let off the hook?” he asked.

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The report was presented by the portfolio holder for leisure and culture, councillor Doug McMurdo (Independent, Sharnbrook) said the report was an update on the procedures needed to put the new contract out to tender.

Paul Pace, head of environment at the council added: “If we were asked to bring a performance [report] to the committee we would have done that.

“The reason Fusion hasn’t come to this one is obviously we wanted to give you an insight into what we’re doing, and procurement wise that does impact on Fusion.

“So we obviously didn’t want to have been in a situation where we’re talking about procurement where we could be challenged by another provider, [who could say] why were Fusion allowed to be involved with that process?” he said

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Responding to councillors Coombes suggestion of not using Fusion next time, councillor McMurdo said: “In terms of who will win the bid and who will bid is not something I’m going to predict.

“If Fusion wants to bid they will be perfectly entitled to bid, as will any other operator, organisation, etc,

“I would be failing this council, and it would be open to legal challenge, if we obviously wrote people in. But if we wrote people out at this relatively early stage that would not be good. And I’m not advising that, and I would caution any member of this authority at this point in time to be writing people out.

“We can take comments about performance, and that I think should be a very separate discussion,” he said.

A spokesperson for Fusion Lifestyle said the company has no comment to make at this time.