In conversation with: Paul Baker – Crawley Borough Council
10th October 2018
We’ve worked on many high-profile projects in the leisure sector and it’s an area we enjoy having a presence in. One of our favourite recent projects was the K2 Crawley Leisure Centre, which saw us refurbish and extend the capacity of their Olympic-standard gym.
We spoke to Paul Baker from Crawley Borough Council about the project, the importance of investing in leisure facilities and the experience of working with ITC.
What is your role at Crawley Borough Council?
I’m the Senior Leisure Officer at Crawley Borough Council, meaning I have the responsibility for successfully managing the council’s four leisure contracts. I’m responsible for K2 Crawley, Tilgate Forest Golf Centre, the Broadfield Stadium (home to Crawley Town Football Club) and the Hawth Theatre.
Why is it important for local authorities to invest in leisure facilities and what challenges do you face?
It’s important for councils to invest as we’re competing with the private sector in offering these facilities to the local area. It’s about making sustainable facilities which keep pace with the needs and expectations of the people we serve.
In economic terms, the challenge local councils are facing is increased competition with the private sector and we need to respond to this. But we’re also facing social challenges in terms of public health and the need to address problems like obesity and physical inactivity, which is another reason why investment in high quality leisure facilities is so important.
What were your goals for K2 Crawley Gym before refurbishment?
The main aim for the refurbishment was to ensure K2 Crawley was ready to be marketed to its true potential when we took the leisure services out to tender during 2017. The refurbishment, completed in January 2018, was therefore vital in securing market interest resulting in a really successful procurement outcome for Crawley Borough Council.
What was your experience of working with ITC?
From pre-contract through to sign off, there were clear communication channels established and good dialogue throughout. ITC’s tender documents were excellent and provided the overview of the project in real detail and in a professional manner. Onsite, ITC were quick to respond to any issues, worked flexibly around pinch points and the programme, and accommodated the needs of the busy live site. There was an excellent working relationship set up right from the outset between ITC’s project manager and the centre management team.
The project was delivered within programme and budget, which are always key factors, and to a high standard of finish, which is very important to a client. A successful project depends upon communication, flexibility and partnership working and I can confirm that ITC excelled in all three.
In terms of contractors, ITC has certainly been the one of the best that I have worked with to date.
What has the K2 Crawley Gym refurb meant for the local area?
We’ve seen an uptake in participation at the gym as a direct result of the K2 Crawley refurbishment, which is fantastic. The refurbishment means Crawley’s leisure facilities are positioned alongside the highest level of the private sector and what we offer is so much more enhanced because of it. For example, we’ve now been able to introduce new technology at the gym, such as the use of virtual studios.