Decision Maker: Cabinet Member for Economic Development
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: Yes
To extend the existing Old Rectory Business Centre Management Services contract by a further one year.
Background and reason for the decision:
The Old Rectory is a KCC owned facility that has offered high quality office space to SMEs since 2009. The centre is managed by an external supplier. The previous contract for management services was awarded in 2015 for a period of seven years, with an extension granted for a further one year which will end in November 2023.
The proposal is to extend management services contract at the centre by a further 12 months during which time a review will be conducted to decide the future of the Centre.
Gross estimated income will be more than £1m if the contract was extended for three years, but current financial circumstances suggest that a more detailed review of all the options should now be undertaken to decide the best value course of action.
1) Extend the contract for the duration of 3-years - to exercise the full extension clause within the existing contract, allowing the current service provider an 11-year term (7 years with up to 48-month provision for extensions). The current provider has proposed a reduction to their share of profits by 25% (from 40% to 30% of the total profit) for the duration of a 3-year contract extension with effect from 31st November 2023. This option would increase KCC’s share of the profits (if other terms remain the same), and by extending the existing contract, it will cut out the disruption/cost of a potential new management company replacing the current provider (IWG/Basepoint). Also, given the volatility of the current market, it may be sensible to go out to tender in 3 years’ time, when conditions could be more favourable to business.
2) Initiate a full PCR compliant procurement exercise. Whilst The Old Rectory has benefited from the current service provider maximising potential income generation from the centre, a full OJEU process would permit KCC to test the market to ensure both price and value for money. KCC would continue to receive a share of profits. However, any potential change to the service provider could be disruptive to current licensees located at the centre.
3) Disposal of the asset. If this option is chosen the Council would lose out on future income revenue but would receive an immediate capital receipt which could be put towards other Council resources. This option would potentially be disruptive to existing businesses located at the centre.
4) Disposal of the asset and transfer of its functions (as a business centre) as an ongoing concern. This option would also ensure that any disruption to existing businesses located at the centre is minimised. As with Option 3, if this option is chosen the Council would lose out on future income revenue but would receive an immediate capital receipt which could be put towards other Council resources.
The proposed decision meets the objectives of ‘Framing Kent’s Future 2022-2026’ by supporting the Kent economy to be resilient and successfully adapt to the challenges and opportunities it faces over the coming years; and by backing SMEs and entrepreneurs to start-up, grow and drive adoption of new technology.
As Cabinet Member for Economic Development, I agree to extend the existing Old Rectory Business Centre Management Services contract by a further one year and delegate to the Director Growth & Communities to take other relevant actions including but not limited to entering into required legal agreements as necessary to implement the decision.
Publication date: 02/06/2023
Date of decision: 02/06/2023
Effective from: 10/06/2023