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Glentress Disaster

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  1. chdot
    Admin

    If this SoS story is true, two people responsible for a significant part of the mountain biking success in Scotland are about to be put out of business by the Forestry Commission -

    "
    Now Emma Guy and Tracey Brunger, who run the Hub café and bike hire centre, are to be thrown off site, prompting fury among cyclists and locals.
    "
    http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/scotland/On-your-bikes-Hub-pair.6650392.jp

    UPDATE

    Seems so -

    http://www.peeblesshirenews.com/news/roundup/articles/2010/12/03/407900-30-jobs-axed-with-closure-of-glentress-hub

    http://www.thehubintheforest.co.uk

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=162837489771&v=wall

    Posted 7 years ago #
  2. Min
    Member

    Err, the "commercial opportunities procedure" is that if the Hub wasn't there then a zillion mountain bikers wouldn't be there.

    How is this possible?

    I suppose they Forestry Commision are counting on the fact that Glentress is so popular now that people will still keep coming anyway. And unfortunately I am sure they are right. Horrible.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  3. gembo
    Member

    This seems like a very poor decision. I wonder what happened after the first six years when the Forestry Commission and the business worked well together? I also wonder who the successful bidder was in the tendering process, these things should be transparent but they should also be fair. [In my view if you have put all this effort in to build the place you should be the favoured bidder?}. There used to be something called TUPE (but that is in the public sector where Sodexo takes over the catering the staff are kept on to pick one example). This also seems to be a new development. Does Glen Tress need a new development?

    Posted 7 years ago #
  4. chdot
    Admin

    @Min
    "I suppose they Forestry Commision are counting on the fact that Glentress is so popular now that people will still keep coming anyway."

    Assuming that the FC didn't actually want rid of existing people, there was probably an assumption that they would win tender.

    It remains to be seen who is succesful in the tender process and whether they wish to work with Tracey and Emma (and vice versa). Presumably they would wish to employ some/all of existing staff.

    @gembo "favoured bidder" - could be the basis for a legal challenge to the process.

    The SoS story has stirred up the Twitter world. My "Glentress" tweets have been retweeted more than any others I've ever done - and it's still early Sunday morning!

    Posted 7 years ago #
  5. Min
    Member

    "Assuming that the FC didn't actually want rid of existing people, there was probably an assumption that they would win tender. "

    If that was the case then someone from the FC should have kicked their backsides. That is not favouritism, simply pointing out to the people whose efforts have made the new development possible that they need to be competative in their tender as it is not a done deal. Still, the FC have said that their decision will be explained so I guess there is not much point speculating until they do (have just spent time speculating myself..).

    Posted 7 years ago #
  6. Arellcat
    Moderator

    What isn't clear from the articles is this: is the FC planning an entirely new visitor centre or something? What services were the FC tendering for?

    If the FC is going to build something new and has been tendering for an operator, and The Hub was unsuccessful in its application, then TUPE or a private sector equivalent wouldn't apply. If The Hub were to be taken over by a larger organisation with services remaining in place, then there would've been the possibility of staff transfer.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  7. chdot
    Admin

    "What isn't clear from the articles is this: is the FC planning an entirely new visitor centre or something? What services were the FC tendering for?"

    http://www.forestry.gov.uk/glentress

    http://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/GlentresspeelEOIfinal.pdf/$FILE/GlentresspeelEOIfinal.pdf

    Bigger/better version of what T&E have mostly created from scratch.

    Successful bidder will be well aware of 'bad feeling' this is generating...

    Posted 7 years ago #
  8. chdot
    Admin

    Interesting assessment -

    "
    I guess E+T supply the things THEY would like people to eat like the fantastic homemade soups and cakes at a good price and put a premium on bacon rolls and the like.
    Clearly the forum is split 3 ways:
    -Them, like myself who worship the Hub (despite the odd setback)
    -Them that prefer the smell of a rancid deep-fat fryer (found at some other trail centres).
    -Those that want the Yuppie Deli experience (the folk who do the caff at the 'Bro Modern Art Gallery are actually rather good at this and good value for money and not too dear). Not entirely suited to filthy, hungry bikers.
    "

    http://www.singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/glentress-peel-centre-update/page/3#post-2053552

    Posted 7 years ago #
  9. Min
    Member

    "Successful bidder will be well aware of 'bad feeling' this is generating... "

    Bet it's Tesco..

    Posted 7 years ago #
  10. chdot
    Admin

    The original Press Release

    "

    3 AUGUST 2010 NEWS RELEASE No: 13877

    Business boost at top Borders tourist attraction

    Forestry Commission Scotland wants to hear from dynamic and innovative businesses about providing high quality services at the new Glentress Peel development when it opens next Spring.

    The new tourism development aims to be a five star visitor attraction providing high quality services on a far larger scale than before.

    Three business opportunities are now on offer:

    • The operation of a catering business providing high quality food in a large new café/restaurant;
    • A retail opportunity to provide a biking/outdoor/hire shop serving well over 200,00 mountain bikers; and
    • Innovative ideas are being sought for additional businesses which could be complementary or separate to the catering and biking/outdoor services.

    Alan Stevenson from Forestry Commission Scotland said:

    “The Glentress Peel development will be the showcase for the Scottish Borders and a gateway for the south of Scotland.

    “As part of the world famous 7stanes mountain bike network and with a variety of scenic walking trails, Glentress forest has a huge footfall of over 300,000 visitors each year, making it the top tourist attraction in the Borders.

    “The new Peel development will set a new landmark in terms of green tourism and we want to hear from highly motivated, experienced and creative businesses that might work with us to make the most of the fantastic new facilities.”

    The Peel buildings will sit in 12 acres of landscaped woodland and open space, all connected by a network of paths and a road. New car parking for over 140 vehicles is being created and a whole new interpretative plan will link the whole forest and Tweed Valley Forest Park together.

    The development has been built on sustainable principles, using Douglas Fir from Glentress for the buildings. Rainwater is being collected from the café roof for the bike wash and a state of the art woodfuel boiler will provide heat and hot water for the all the buildings.

    Expressions of interest are to be received by Friday 20th August 2010. For more information on the applications process and the Peel site, log on to http://www.forestry.gov.uk/glentress.

    Notes to news editors

    1 Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate http://www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland.

    2. The Glentress Peel project has been awarded £8.4 million in funding in total to create a showcase site for the Tweed Valley Forest Park. £200k of support has been granted from SportScotland and £740k from Scottish Enterprise

    3. Media enquiries to Steve Williams, forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6508.

    Thanks

    Steve Williams
    Senior Press Officer
    Forestry Commission Scotland
    231 Corstorphine Road
    Edinburgh
    EH12 7AT

    0131 314 6508
    http://www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland
    "

    Posted 7 years ago #
  11. chdot
    Admin

    From Twitter

    "
    @carltonreid: Glentress shocka. The Hub's Emma Guy & Tracey Brunger fail in Forestry Commission tender.

    BikeBiz: http://bit.ly/gMK5Yj

    Original Tweet: http://twitter.com/carltonreid/status/11381431171293184

    "

    Posted 7 years ago #
  12. druidh
    Member

    I'm failing to see the problem.

    When I go to GT, it's to ride the trails. A cup of coffee and a bacon roll are just a bonus. Hey - maybe the new place will have more seats and I won't have to sit out in the cold and rain when there are more than 20 customers.

    Pretty poor journalism too - how can there be 30 job losses when there's a new, bigger facility opening up instead? And why no comments allowed on the story?

    Posted 7 years ago #
  13. chdot
    Admin

    "I'm failing to see the problem."

    No you're not, you're just taking a different view!

    Perhaps problem is the wrong word(?) Issue?

    It's clear from Twitter that a lot of people think that there is something 'wrong'/unfair here.

    I'm sure there are people who like the status quo - even sitting outside when cafe is full.

    Others may be looking forward to 'bigger/better' but 'under existing management'.

    The fact that T&E became part of the bidding process suggests that they wanted to be involved with the new set-up and (presumably) thought they would be capable of doing so.

    There is clearly a strong feeling that Glentress 'wouldn't be what it is' without the two people responsible for the current cafe/hire operation. Consequently they 'deserve' to be given the chance to run the new Peel centre.

    To revert to the word "problem", I think that is about whether the FC, by wanting things to be 'fair' - and setting in motion the tender process - are being fair/sensible/wise.

    Is this, understandable, 'outrage' just sentiment (albeit in genuine support of two people who have worked hard to create something valuable) or does it reflect an unease about the way a 'public body' is behaving?

    Has the FC made a mistake? Is this 'inevitable evolution' which will adversely affect some people, but benefit more?

    Posted 7 years ago #
  14. druidh
    Member

    Perhaps the thread should be titled Glentress Changes then?

    Posted 7 years ago #
  15. chdot
    Admin

    "Perhaps the thread should be titled Glentress Changes then?"

    That would be an option!

    It was written at 1 in the morning after reading the SoS story which is (perhaps) one-sided/sensational. So I was in mildly ironic, tabloid, mode!

    Someone has already complained on Twitter about the word "disaster" - assuming there must have an avalanche...

    It's a 'disaster' for some, a storm in a coffee cup for others, and of no interest to many.

    I have only been to Glentress once. I find the FC idea that it will be a "new landmark in terms of green tourism" with 140 more vehicle spaces classic doublespeak.

    I am also familiar with 'institutionalised' hijacking of other people's work, so am a bit biased...

    Posted 7 years ago #
  16. Just a very quick comment.

    Firstly, being a public body, any plan to build a new centre MUST go for procurement. What's not quite so clear is whether the 'operating' of that new centre had to be procured, could T&E not have just carried on? Presumably it's looking at being a bit different, certainly bigger, offering more than just food and coffee and the like.

    Procurement processes have rules to follow (to avoid favouritism and backhanders and the like) and bids will be scored on technical and financial merits.

    Now, all of that said (basically that FC aren't acting 'immorally', but are merely constrained by legal requirements), there's something just... wrong about this. In the sense that T&E have given so much to Glentress, and could effectively be simply dumped to the side (TUPE - Transfer of Undertaking (Protection of Employment) might not apply because it's a new business, and not actually a new owner taking over the Hub.

    What the FC could have done was retain the current cafe, and at the same time build its new centre (with a cafe if it wanted, then see which does better!). It just feels a little ungrateful. Why not procure the building, and the services that are different from the cafe, and leave the girls running the food and drink side? That wouldn't be contrary to the procurement regs.

    Druidh, I can see exactly where you're coming from, the main reason anyone goes to GT is to ride the trails, but the Hub was some 'added value' for many (including me). And I can't help but think that the Laggan cafe was modelled on the success of the Hub.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  17. chdot
    Admin

    Worth a read -

    Glentress: Emma & Tracey vs Forestry Commission

    "When I originally found out that the Forestry Commission had received £5 million of lottery funding to develop the site I feared that it spelled the end of Glentress as we know it."

    Posted 7 years ago #
  18. Claggy Cog
    Member

    @chdot "new landmark in terms of green tourism" with 140 more vehicle spaces classic doublespeak".

    When in the Borders you see very many cars carrying bikes, and one assumes that they, like most MTBers/trail bikers/hikers/walkers rarely actually get to Glentress by any other means, and they certainly do not actually cycle there. More car parking = more visitors for whatever activity the occupants wish to partake in.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  19. chdot
    Admin

    FC in Scotland

    National Committee for Scotland  

    "taking decisions on country-specific developments"

    http://www.forestry.gov.uk/website/Meetings.nsf/LUCommittees/National%20Committee%20for%20Scotland?OpenDocument

    Posted 7 years ago #
  20. chdot
    Admin

    Good piece from someone who has known Glentress for more than 10 years.

    "
    I’ve known about Glentress since way before the grassroots beginnings of mountain biking in Scotland. I used to run and walk there as a teenager because I grew up next door to Glentress. Then when Tracey Brunger and Emma Guy opened their Hub cafe and hire centre some 10 years ago I got to know them and would offer them as much publicity in my writing about Scotland’s great outdoors as I could. They are genuinely enthusiastic riders who wanted to offer a fantastic biking facility to all ages and abilities.
    "

    http://www.fionaoutdoors.co.uk/2010/12/a-blog-round-up-fury-over-as-glentress-girls-told-to-get-on-their-bikes.html

    Posted 7 years ago #
  21. chdot
    Admin

    "
    Hi - we've updated the current position on our website as regards the
    tendering process for the Glentress Peel businesses. (Will be later into
    Jan when we are able to give who has been successful.)

    We have also published an open letter from Our Chief Executive in
    response to enquiries on The Hub not being successful - see PDF in this
    link.

    http://www.forestry.gov.uk/glentress

    Thanks

    Steve Williams
    Senior Press Officer
    Forestry Commission Scotland

    "

    Posted 6 years ago #
  22. LaidBack
    Member

    Response to enquiries regarding The Hub in the Forest (PDF 62k)

    I can't open this. Anyone able to post up? I've lunched there in the past and sad to see it go. Was their exotically named breakfast I had...

    I arrived by recumbent via Granites which of course gave the car-borne mountain bikers much amusement. It's just not the done thing!

    Posted 6 years ago #
  23. kaputnik
    Moderator

    From this link

    Dear
    GLENTRESS PEEL DEVELOPMENT
    Thank you for your e-mail expressing your concerns about the tendering of business opportunities at the new Glentress Peel, and in particular about The Hub being unsuccessful in their bids. I hope this response explains the situation.
    Glentress has grown massively in popularity - from 90,000 visitors 10 years ago, now rapidly heading towards 300,000 visitors per year. It is the flagship of the much more extensive 7stanes project stretching across South Scotland. There are many that have contributed to this success. Forestry Commission Scotland manages the forest, has built the trails and associated infrastructure, and looks after the trails and their users. Many volunteers such as those with the Glentress Trail Fairies and the Tweed Valley Osprey project have contributed freely. A wide range of organisations have provided funding contributions. The Hub has also been an important part of the Glentress story over the last nine years.
    The new Glentress Peel has been designed to cope with this massive growth in popularity. All the new facilities are state of the art and geared for managing a large number of visitors to the forest. This includes improved traffic management, additional car parking, better toilet and shower facilities, a new larger café and bike shop, improved wildlife viewing facilities, interpretation centre, and a base for the staff that keep Glentress running. In the long run, we hope the success of the site will generate opportunities for other businesses to provide a wider variety of visitor services. The development will further increase the area’s standing as a top destination, bringing increased economic benefit to the Tweed Valley and more widely in South Scotland.
    Many businesses have expressed interest in operating from these fantastic new facilities. In line with all public services, Forestry Commission Scotland has followed best practice in making the opportunity available to all and by running a fair and objective evaluation process without favouritism, in this case involving independent verification. This is to ensure that the services will be of the quality and scale needed. It is also to secure a good financial contribution to the £250,000 annual cost of maintaining the trails at Glentress and the wider 7stanes network, and so reduce the cost that falls to the taxpayer.
    Nine years ago The Hub secured a five-year lease through a similar open tender process. This was extended to cover the period to completion of the new facilities. I understand your disappointment that the Hub was not successful in the recent tender. However, I hope you can recognise that it would not be acceptable for a public body like Forestry Commission Scotland to reject other stronger bids for provision of services in the new facilities.
    Page 2
    The tendering process is still running through its final stages, but I hope that we can announce the preferred bidder by 12 January 2011.
    Given the open nature of comment on the web around this issue, I have made this response publicly available on our web site at http://www.forestry.gov.uk/glentress
    In accordance with our complaints procedures, I can advise that should you not be satisfied with the response I have provided, you can contact the following:
    Dr Bob McIntosh
    Director Forestry Commission Scotland
    Forestry Commission Scotland
    Silvan House
    231 Corstorphine Road
    Edinburgh
    EH12 7AT
    Tel.: 0131 334 0303
    Fax: 0131 334 6152
    E-mail: bob.mcintosh@forestry.gsi.gov.uk
    Forestry Commission Scotland has been and remains one of the most progressive providers of mountain biking and countryside recreation in Scotland. It is our desire to maximise the value of mountain biking to Scotland, across the 7stanes and at Glentress, and to do this in a way that is sustainable in times of reducing government funding. Despite your disappointment over the Hub not being the strongest bidder to provide services at Glentress, I hope that you will be able to continue to enjoy the internationally acclaimed facilities at Glentress and other Forestry Commission Scotland sites.
    Yours sincerely
    Simon Hodge
    Chief Executive
    Forest Enterprise Scotland

    Posted 6 years ago #
  24. Arellcat
    Moderator

    Paraphrasing a lot, but the letter essentially says the FC expects Glentreee visitors to be reaching 300,000 a year, and that in order to deal with that number, they needed a new facility with "...improved traffic management, additional car parking, better toilet and shower facilities, a new larger café and bike shop, improved wildlife viewing facilities, interpretation centre, and a base for the staff that keep Glentress running...". Then it says acknowledges the good work The Hub has done over the years, and implies they weren't up to the job for the new regime and were rejected in the tender process. They don't however say who is in the shortlist for getting the contract.

    Edit: As soon as the FC decided that a new facility was required, and if The Hub's lease was due to expire, public sector procurement rules would immediately apply and, naturally, that process can easily oust the little guy.

    Posted 6 years ago #
  25. gembo
    Member

    Interestingly, the chap writing the letter - Simon Hodge - has the same name as the most exemplary Castlemilk Law Centre legal eagle and Big Beat DJ - Simon Hodge. Simon that I know was apt to give away the room in the Maryhill flat we used to share to Colombian refugees etc. The room was full of records. Although the whole letter from the other Simon seems perfectly straightforward it is in fact a summary of various ills in our society. Successful entrepreneurs working in hospitality and catering have to work very long hours to earn a decent wage. They are at the beck and call of the public, the Glentress people seem to have created a style that many people bought into [some just want a quick kit kat Ok]. But that counts for nothing because there must be progress and development and more car parking so that people can cycle. Then people who put all their efforts into building a business can be bypassed by a preferred bidder. Often someone who is willing to pay more rent on the premises, makes you much more preferable. Personally, I make my own bread and sometimes bramble jelly and cycle with my pal out the Lang Whang to Woolfords (it will never have a preferred bidder) then come back in via S Lanarkshire and W Lothian back roads. But the process of having your livelihood pulled out from under you because you have helped contribute to the ongoing popularity of the venture is transparently galling.

    Posted 6 years ago #
  26. chdot
    Admin

    "
    24 JANUARY 2011
    NEWS RELEASE No: 14373

    Preferred bidders announced for Glentress Peel project

    Two companies which have a track record in serving the outdoor leisure market and mountain bikers are to begin detailed discussions with Forestry Commission Scotland to run services at the Glentress Peel visitor centre.

    After a rigorous tendering exercise, the preferred bidders to run the new bike shop and café in the visitor centre complex are:

    • Bike Shop: Alpine Bikes
    Alpine Bikes Ltd is Scotland's leading independent cycle retailer, founded twenty-two years ago in Aberdeen and now based in Edinburgh. It has nine shops, including three within Tiso Outdoor Experience stores. Its business has developed around mountain biking, dealing with brands such as Trek, Genesis, Santa Cruz and Orange. It now also incorporates road and urban bikes along with an extensive range of clothing and accessories.

    • Café: GT Restaurants Ltd
    This is a new Peebles based company which has been set up by Claire and Olivier Bony, the owners of the Glentress Hotel. They already run a number of businesses including the Hotel’s popular restaurant and self catering units in Peebles. Their local presence, coupled with the Hotel being situated at the entrance to the forest, has given them valuable experience of catering for the mountain bike and visitor market for a number of years.

    The Commission will now enter formal discussions with the two companies so that contracts can be completed – this will take a few weeks. More details of what the companies plan for the café and bike shop are likely to emerge after contracts are signed.

    Bill Meadows, the Commission’s Forest District Manager for Dumfries & Scottish Borders said:

    “We’ve undertaken a very thorough, open and fair tender for commercial opportunities and I’m very pleased that the process has produced two companies which have many years of experience in the mountain bike and outdoor leisure market.

    “Both have shown a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and innovation in their tenders and demonstrated they are keen supporters in making Glentress a top class visitor attraction.”

    Bryan Shedden, Director of Alpine Bikes, said:

    "I am thrilled that Alpine Bikes has been offered the tender to run the bike shop at Glentress Peel. Through our shop at Innerleithen we already have sponsorship relationships with local events and clubs and expect to build on this commitment throughout the Tweed Valley.

    “With over 22 years of experience in the bike industry, and following our recent acquisition of the summer lease for bike hire at Nevis Range, this appointment further secures our positioning as Scotland's premium bike retailer and hire centre provider. We look forward to working with Forestry Commission Scotland and the other tenants to make Glentress Peel a resounding success."

    Claire Bony of GT Restaurants Ltd added: 

    “Olivier and I are delighted to be offered the opportunity to be part of something as fantastic as the new Glentress Peel development. 

    “We are very much looking forward to working with Forestry Commission Scotland and the other site partners to create a 5-star visitor attraction, which can only be of benefit to the many users of the forest park and to our local community.” 

    Glentress Peel is due to open later in the Spring. The Commission is committed to working with The Hub for the remainder of their agreements. The Hub’s bike shop permission runs out end of February 2011 and the café lease in February 2012.

    For more detail on the Glentress Peel project, the tendering process, including the documentation used, log on to http://www.forestry.gov.uk/glentress.

    Notes to news editors

    1.   Forestry Commission Scotland works as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate. http://www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland.

    2.  Alpine Bikes: http://www.alpinebikes.com.

    3.  GT Restaurants Ltd: http://www.glentress.org.uk

    Thanks

    Steve Williams
    Senior Press Officer
    Forestry Commission Scotland
    231 Corstorphine Road
    Edinburgh
    EH12 7AT

    "

    Posted 6 years ago #
  27. kaputnik
    Moderator

    @Alpinebikes - what does "independent" mean in this context, as it's not independent of the Tiso Group (as much as I love that particular establishment)

    Posted 6 years ago #
  28. chdot
    Admin

    "@Alpinebikes - what does "independent" mean in this context"

    Probably "not Halfords" - but it's an interesting definition/question.

    Posted 6 years ago #

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