Agenda item

Portfolio Holder Annual Report - Tourism, Leisure, Sport and Culture


Cllr Nick Hookway, Portfolio Holder for Tourism, Leisure, Sport and Culture presented his report.  Cllr Hookway advised that this was a relatively new Portfolio and the report covered the past two years.  The Portfolio, which covered several services, was an effective cross-cutting method of working and would not function without the cross-service support of officers.  Cllr Hookway also thanked Cllr Hawkins for his work as Chair of the LED Monitoring Forum.


Questions and comments on the report included the following points:

·         The Exmouth Pavilion is seeing audiences returning slowly following the pandemic, in line with the experiences of venues across the country.

·         A key issue for the Pavilion and other similar building is the lack of investment in maintenance over previous years. 

·         The Exmouth placemaking consultation is currently underway, although it was noted that any investment in the Pavilion may be constrained by lack of funds.

·         A report is awaited as to what urgent repairs to the Pavilion might be needed.

·         The Queen’s Drive fitness space was installed during the pandemic so that it could be used while social distancing was in place.  It was noted that its usage has not been as hoped and the space had been adversely affected by last year’s heatwave and the impact on growing conditions for the grass surface.  It was planned to run fitness sessions for teenagers over the summer season.

·         It was noted that the key rationale in the Portfolio is to drive the economy in tourism and culture.  Working across departments was critical to providing support for businesses as they emerge from the pandemic.

·         Thanks was also due to the Arts and Culture Forum chaired by Cllr Whibley and the LED Monitoring Forum for their roles in delivering the strategies within the Portfolio.

·         Regarding the playing field strategy, it was noted that no further update is available currently and the Portfolio Holder is waiting for work to recommence.

·         Cllr Whibley as Member Champion for Arts and Culture, highlighted the excellent work undertaken by the Assistant Director, Countryside and Leisure and the Arts Development Manager at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery in pulling the different strategies together.

·         The role of consultants in developing the Culture, Leisure and Tourism Strategies was noted.

·         The appointment of the EDDC Cultural Producer would assist with overcoming some of the obstacles to delivering the Culture Strategy, however, the lack of a budget remained an obstacle to delivery.  The Portfolio Holder was considering future Government levelling up funding as a possible option.

·         Regarding the demographic of visitors to East Devon, it was difficult to be specific as it depends on time and location.  The Portfolio Holder would report back with demographic information at a future point.

·         It was noted that existing dual use arrangements are to be renegotiated and that this was well received.  It was further noted that this would be a slow process as all sites have to be re-negotiated and that previously unknown issues had come to light during production of the Leisure Strategy.

·         With regard to holding cultural events, there needs to be a balance between the benefit and the impact on local residents.

·         The impact of holding weddings and the Christmas event in Connaught Gardens in Sidmouth was discussed and concern was expressed about closing off parts of the Gardens to visitors during events.  Concern was also expressed that the identity of the Gardens should not be lost due to the holding of events, and that events should at least cover their costs.

·         It was further noted that events such as weddings bring considerable economic benefit to the area.

·         It was noted that Cranbrook should be included in the delivery of cultural and leisure facilities and that discussions between the Portfolio Holder and the Assistant Director, Growth, Development and Prosperity are on-going with regard to delivery of the Leisure Strategy in Cranbrook.

·         With regard to ensuring that there is sufficient and wide promotion of cultural events, it was noted that one of the purposes of the Arts and Culture East Devon (ACED) network is to promote awareness of events.


The Scrutiny Committee noted the contents of the report with regard to the stock condition survey and agreed the following recommendations to the Overview Committee.



1.    That the Council aims to complete the Leisure Strategy stock condition survey by the end of the next Council term to enable both the Council and the public to be aware of the condition of their local assets and so that the required maintenance can therefore be budgeted for.

2.    In the event that a cultural or leisure site is to close as a result of the stock condition survey, a public consultation be held where possible.


The Portfolio Holder was thanked for his report.





Supporting documents: