Cardiff Council partners with Friends of Bute Park to develop Secret Garden Café tender


Cardiff Council has released details of a new joint working arrangement with the Friends of Bute Park to ensure the needs of park users are considered when shaping the future operating model for the Secret Garden Café.

The Friends of Bute Park approached the Council recently offering to work with the authority to ensure that any new café offer meets the needs of park users.

To begin that process, the Council has today announced that it will work with the Friends group to shape the specifications and the evaluation criteria of a tender document which will establish a new operating model for the café.

To allow enough time for Cardiff Council to fully engage with the Friends of Bute Park in finalising the specifications and evaluation criteria, the original 5thJune tender publication date is being extended by four weeks, to Monday 3rdJuly.

Pending the conclusion of the procurement exercise, the Council has offered the current operator an extension of the Tenancy at Will which allows them to continue running the cafe through the transition to any new arrangements. If the current operator puts in a successful bid, they will continue to run the café under the new arrangements, after that point.

Commenting on the new joint-working arrangements, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Events, Cllr Jennifer Burke, said: "I welcome the Friends of Bute Park's offer to work with the Council and today's announcement that the tender specifications and evaluation criteria will be developed in partnership.

"Not only will this mean that the tender we put out to market reflects the wishes of visitors to the park; it also means that we further reinforce the transparency of the process and introduces an added guarantee of impartiality when it comes to selecting the successful submission. The café has been part of the Bute Park community for over ten years and there's no doubting the contribution it has made to the park in that time. The council is encouraging the current café operator, who has run the site for the past five years, to make a bid so that it can be considered alongside any other submissions from other potential operators."

Ian Body, Chair of the New Friends of Bute Park, said: "The group welcomes the opportunity to help co-ordinate involvement from the public users of Bute Park who, as key stakeholders, have so much to contribute in terms of what they would like to see the Secret Garden Café facility able to offer."

When ready, Cardiff Council will advertise the opportunity and undertake a tender evaluation process to identify the preferred operator. The terms of the new arrangements will enable the local authority to ensure the successful bidder is strictly bound to provide agreed minimum standards of service provision.

The procurement process for the new management agreement and associated lease will be openly advertised to the market through Sell 2 Wales and the procurement portal, Proactis.

The process to award a new contract to operate the Secret Garden Café comes after the original tenancy came to an end earlier this year. Under the Council's procurement rules, as governed by the constitution, a direct award cannot be made in these circumstances. The council appreciates the uncertainty this causes the existing operator and will continue to talk with them throughout the transition period so they understand the process and are able to make a bid.