In addition to the report, the following link to Crawley Borough Council’s Open Space, Sport and Recreation Assessment is included as an example.
The Forum received a report from the Service Lead – Countryside & Leisure outlining the background to the existing strategy, and how a new strategy would overlap into existing plans and strategies. The report asked the Forum to consider what a future leisure provision should look like, in the context of future demand by local communities and the ability to provide long term financial support.
The Forum had also been furnished with two examples of Leisure Strategies from other authorities, to illustrate two difference approaches.
The CEO of LED Community Leisure spoke of the benefit of having a strategy in place as a means of an evidence base for bidding for funding opportunities. He suggested to the Forum that the shape of the strategy may include a strategic review of the facilities, along with a review of the current playing pitch strategy. He outlined the new and upgraded pitches that had occurred since that strategy was produced in 2015. The Service Lead – Countryside & Leisure explained to the Forum that linking in with the Planning Policy Team on this area of work would be actioned.
The debate by the Forum included:
· Use of the sport England calculator in bidding for funding – this was confirmed as utilised, and examples given;
· The Forum was appropriately configured to deal with the development of the Strategy before recommending to Cabinet and Council;
· Consider the development of the Leisure Strategy alongside the new Local Plan, perhaps with some economies of scale in spend on consultation with the public over options. Some of the evidence collection for the Local Plan would be applicable to the Leisure Strategy;
· Dovetailing with the Local Plan was key, as through developer contribution (CIL, s106) the Council could look to build enough resource to match fund bids, so that communities have proper provision of sport and leisure;
· Procuring consultancy through Sport England preferred, as there was a framework agreement in place to contract consultants, and there may be opportunity through them to secure funding for the consultation;
· Timescale for the production of a new Leisure Strategy was difficult to define at this stage until there was a clear direction of what it would cover;
· Strategic review of the facilities was important, because of those aging facilities and what their future maintenance costs would be;
· Consider the budget provision carefully in order to inform the Leisure Strategy, as it must be achievable;
· Need to be clear on what the service would look like in future years, and what savings could be achieved in relation to asset provisions;
· Cost of consultation to deliver a strategy was not clear at this stage but it was hoped that this could be met from another fund.
The Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Sport and Tourism commented that the aim of the new Leisure Strategy should be towards all residents, including the importance of wellbeing now brought sharply into focus by the pandemic. He also felt that the open spaces controlled by the Council should be considered as sources of leisure.
1. Sport England framework be used to contract consultancy services to help deliver a new Leisure Strategy;
2. The development of the new Leisure Strategy to be undertaken by the LED Monitoring Forum as the best suited body to conduct the work.