The council has chosen its preferred bidder to provide leisure services including two new swimming pools in Reading.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) plans to build an eight-lane competition pool at Rivermead to replace Central Pool and a six-lane community pool at Palmer Park to replace Arthur Hill.

Palmer Park pool is expected to be open in Spring 2022 and the Rivermead facility in summer 2022 if the chosen bidder is approved later this month.

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Councillor Graeme Hoskin, lead member for Sport, Health and Wellbeing, said: "We have put in challenging but doable targets for the two pools.

"We are committed to expanding take up and usage of leisure facilities."

Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) Policy committee will decide whether to enter into a 25-year management contract with ‘Bidder A’ at a meeting on Monday, January 20.

Two ‘comprehensive and competitive’ bids were submitted to the council in October 2019 for the leisure contract, with Bidder A now revealed as the preferred choice.

“We were fortunate to receive extremely strong and credible bids from very professional and well-respected leisure provider'

The council has not revealed the name of either bidder, citing commerical sensitivity.

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He said both bids were "extremely strong and credible" from "well-respected" and "very professional" leisure providers.

The selected provider will manage Rivermead, Palmer Park, South Reading Leisure Centre and Medway Sports.

Although the report ahead of the meeting says Palmer Park will be a four-lane pool, Cllr Hoskin revealed the Labour administration has decided to expand it to six lanes.

A total spend of £43 million is planned for delivering new leisure facilities over the 25-year contract. A large chunk of that - around £35 million - is expected to be spent over the next three years.

Cllr Hoskin said the investment "will pay off" as more people will use the facilities raising extra money.

The current leisure contract with Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) for the Rivermead Leisure Centre expires at the end of December 2022.

RBC looked into the possibility of bringing services in house but estimated the cost would be double that of Bidder A’s proposal.

Why no names?

Information on the bidders is confidential, the council says, as it is “information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person”.

Hence the names: Bidder A and Bidder B.

Cllr Hoskin said he believes the bidder can be revealed on Tuesday, January 21 if the Policy committee backs the plans.

Why Bidder A?

The council has recommended Bidder A because it received a score of 86.67 out of 100, with Bidder B receiving a lower score of 82.9, in two independent evaluations.

Bidder A is believed to provide a better overall design for Rivermead and Palmer Park at a lower cost and with more sustainable design.

The company has proposed a soft play zone, a number of party rooms plus a café and an information hub at Palmer Park, which the council says goes beyond its expectations.