Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex 5

Letter, 5 January 2001, from the Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Hertfordshire to the Chief Executive of Sport England


  Many thanks for the meeting yesterday—I found it very useful. Our discussion certainly clarified a number of issues and I hope that we will be able to work with your officers to take this project forward. Our aim is to enhance the facilities that we will be offering to our community, whilst at the same time providing some facilities that are appropriate for the development of excellence.

  I enclose as an Annex the specification that was circulated as part of our "Invitation to Negotiate" (ITN) to PFI consortia [not printed]. This specification, as you will note, is quite broad and has been interpreted by different parties in slightly different ways. The Sport England Technical Guidance Notes and Standards were used in defining the sports facilities. At the moment the only significant change is that we are likely to have to settle for the eight court sports hall rather than the 12 court facility that was originally envisaged.

  I confirm that we are in a position where we are now in discussion with two consortia—Carillion and Jarvis—who will be reviewing their proposals during the next two months and we would expect to go to the preferred provider position in early March with a view to commencing construction in August/September 2001.

  We are committed to opening the campus in September 2003 and we are past the point of no return on this project. I also confirm that the planning position is that the site has a covenant for university use for 80 years and that the PFI providers have been instructed not to include any residual value at the end of the term of our agreement. We can expect some intense activity during the next eight weeks as the PFI providers seek to meet our specifications within the financial framework that we have identified. This period is clearly very important to us in terms of the quality and affordability of the facilities. However, we are committed to the scheme and would seek support from Sport England to enhance facilities, rather than for funding for the core facilities. With this in mind we will be particularly interested in discussing further with your officers the possibility of extending our planned 25 metre swimming pool to a facility of 50 metres and including the equipment that provides the flexibility that meets the needs of the local community and those of excellence. We would also be interested if there is a way in which Sport England could support our initial plans to construct a 12 court hall. This would enable four courts to be dedicated for badminton use only at all times and thus the county badminton development programme to flourish. I understand from Nick Brooking, the University's Director of Sport, that both these proposals are consistent with the relevant associations' strategic plans. We have received positive encouragement from David Sparks of the ASA in respect of the pool.

  Clearly, in terms of timescale, we shall need to take this forward during the next few months. The situation is slightly delicate in that the PFI providers and the University are working in an envelope of confidentiality and therefore we need to be careful regarding any dissemination of information that is within the bids. I shall seek some legal guidance on this issue in the next few days, but I would envisage that it is not an insurmountable problem.

  Once again, many thanks for the meeting, I found it extremely useful.

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