Catering at the Rickyard Kiosk, Walpole Park

Thursday, February 8, 2018 - 17:07

Catering at the Rickyard Kiosk, Walpole Park 

Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery Trust notes with regret recent comments about the change in management of the Kiosk in Walpole Park planned for spring 2018. 

There is much confusion over the facts, which are as follows: 

Current Lease of the Rickyard

  • Alan Dillon has a lease from Ealing Council to operate the Kiosk. 
  • This lease (signed May 2016) expired, as always planned, on 31st January 2018. 
  • Alan Dillon was given notice by Ealing Council in October 2015 that the lease was being granted at a reduced rent and without a tender process, because it was a short lease – ending January 2018 – and that it would afterwards be put out to competitive tender by the Trust.
  • Mr Dillon has thus had over two years’ notice that the Kiosk would be put out to competitive tender after his own lease ended.
  • Ealing Council are obliged to ensure that the operation of the Kiosk would be put out to competitive tender from spring 2018.
  • Ealing Council further reminded Mr Dillon of the forthcoming tender process in September 2017.
  • Mr Dillon’s lease has recently been extended, as agreed between Mr Dillon and Ealing Council, until the end of April 2018 to ensure continuity of service to park users.

Competitive Tender process for future operation of the Kiosk

  • The Trust is tasked with identifying caterers to operate the two catering outlets at Pitzhanger when the House and Gallery reopen to the public: the Kiosk and the new-build Café Brasserie in the walled garden. 
  • The Trust has to take many factors into account in choosing the operators.  These include: the needs of park users; long-term viability of the operation; financial return to support the charitable activities of Pitzhanger; and the suitability of the catering offer. 
  • The Trust is well aware that that the Kiosk is a popular part of the life of the Park community.  Alan Dillon and his team have provided good service to Park users over the years that he has operated Spencer’s. That was why he was invited to take part in the tender process run by the Trust. 
  • On 3rd October 2017, the Trust issued to Mr Dillon and others a formal Invitation to Tender for the catering outlets in the Park.  
  • The Invitation to Tender specifically invited parties to tender for either the Kiosk or the Café Brasserie, or both together.  There was no insistence on one caterer to operate both options. 
  • The Invitation to Tender provides for a two-stage tender process: bidders who get through to the second round of the tender process are asked to provide additional information on their proposed offers.  A final decision will be made in February 2018the next month.
  • The timescale for the tender process has been extended to give the Trust longer to assess these bids and to reflect the timing of when Ealing Council will be ready to hand over the catering outlets to the Trust. 
  • Mr Dillon duly submitted a bid for the operation of the Kiosk.
  • The terms of the Invitation to Tender, which was made available to all interested parties, clearly set out the measures against which offers would be assessed. 
  • We regret that Mr Dillon’s bid did not score as highly as other bids received.  Therefore, he was not shortlisted for the second stage of the tender process.  
  • The Trust understands Alan Dillon’s disappointment that he was not successful in this competitive tender process, but the Trust followed carefully a publicised tender process.  
  • The Trust needs to be fair not just to Mr Dillon but also to the other parties who tendered, all of whose bids have been assessed against the advertised criteria. The Trust cannot enter into discussions of the award of a contract while it is in the process of a competitive tender.  So, with the second round of the competition to choose a new operator for the kiosk still under way, the Trust can’t attend a meeting focused on awarding the concession to a bidder who did not succeed in the first round of that competition.
  • However, the Trust has offered repeatedly to meet with Mr Dillon to discuss the tender process within the limits of commercial confidentiality. This offer has not been taken up.

Future Plans for the Kiosk

  • A decision is expected to be made on the choice of the caterers for the outlets in the next month. 
  • Ealing Council is responsible for the operation of the Kiosk up until the hand over to the new caterers in spring 2018
  • The Trust is determined that the future operator will meet the needs of park users, the wider community of Ealing and visitors to Pitzhanger: it has no intention of appointing ‘a faceless corporate operation’.

Background about Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery Trust

  • The Trust is duty bound to do what it judges to be in the best interests of the community.  Its job is to make a success of managing the restored Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery in the interests of the whole Ealing community and to make it a landmark destination for visitors from further afield.  
  • The Trust’s intention is to provide free access to Pitzhanger Manor for the public.  The building work on the Manor will also ensure step free access for those with access needs.
  • Over the past six years the Trust has successfully raised some £10m for the capital works to restore Pitzhanger, from Ealing Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and many institutional and individual donors.  However, we still need nearly £1m to finish the project.   
  • Given the financial pressures Pitzhanger is certain to face in running a heritage site and exhibition gallery for the benefit of the public with a related education and outreach programme, the Trust must make judgements about what is likely to put the operation on a sustainable footing.  This situation is made all the more important as planned Council support will reduce over the years.
  • Once Pitzhanger Manor and the Gallery reopens, we reckon we will still have to raise £200,000 each year just to cover operating costs.  Accordingly, the Trust cannot take unreasonable financial or other risks.
  • The Trust’s charitable objectives include delivering an inclusive programme of education and outreach activities particularly aimed at participants from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with additional needs.  These programmes are being devised in close consultation with local community groups.

As a not-for profit charitable trust we understand and regret Mr Dillon’s disappointment that he was not successful in this competitive bid process, but the Trust followed carefully a formal and publicised tender process.

8th February 2018