Agenda item

SOPG Diagnostic highlights

Presentation prepared by Strategic Leisure.


Strategic Leisure Consultants gave a presentation to the Forum which outlined the main highlights of their findings, following their commission to undertake a Strategic Outcomes Planning Guidance (SPOG) Diagnostic, following the Sports England model.


Observations from the SPOG included:

·         No Leisure Strategy with clear vision and priorities

·         Outreach work not formalised in contract

·         Opportunities to introduce formal KPIs into contract that are aligned with the Council’s priorities

·         Cost of dual use facilities

·         No Playing Pitch Strategy.


The consultants had considered the key factors for the District, including age demographics and how that varied between towns and rural areas; and pockets of deprivation.


A detailed review of the existing contract had been made, and the difficulties in delivering to that contract were highlighted, including

·         Aging stock of facilities

·         Limitations of dual-use sites – such as age of facilities and dated agreements

·         Serving relatively small town populations

·         Cost of providing a community reach officer to deliver programmes linked to the Council’s Public Health Strategy.


Whilst the detailed report behind the findings was yet to be finalised and circulated, the recommendations from Strategic Leisure on what was required were provided to the Forum:

·         A Leisure Strategy with vision and key objectives for the Council;

·         An up to date evidence based assessment of individual sports facility needs to inform the emerging Local Plan;

·         Community Survey to provide comprehensive insight and inform the Leisure Strategy;

·         Further consultation with key stakeholders;

·         Provision of bespoke Facility Planning Models to inform the Leisure Strategy;

·         AN updated Playing Pitch Strategy;

·         Review of all dual use arrangements;

·         Undertake market testing exercise to determine if the leisure contract continues to represent value for money for the Council;

·         Review the Service Fee arrangement with LED and consider introduction of an annual management fee, index linked for the remaining period of the contract.


Discussion on the findings included:

·         Timeframe for delivering a Leisure Strategy by the consultants was expected to take 6 to 7 months, subject to their appointment;

·         There were difficulties in benchmarking against other authorities, because of the variances in population, built facilities and offer; however further work suggested in the recommendations would allow a review of what the District did for leisure, across various sectors, that would then provide a clear picture to the Council of what the current market for leisure is;

·         Consultation would be managed carefully to manage expectation;

·         The consultants would work closely with the Council to engage with as many local groups as possible;

·         The Council would need to consider a combination of facilities to provide the level of service that the Council had decided was required and could afford;

·         Other local authorities were moving to some main facilities, with smaller satellite services dispersed in key areas;

·         The Council needed to be clear on what services they wanted to deliver against the budget available, but that would need to be based on the evidence of the demand, which will have changed considerably but also impacted by the pandemic;

·         The contract was deemed unusual by the consultants, because the risk element of inflation and other changeable costs was covered by LED and built into a 5 year payment agreement and the majority of building costs were met directly by the Council;

·         A holistic approach to all forms of leisure was required in order for the Council to decide what offer it should make in future, and what elements were better served by the private sector.


The Forum thanked Strategic Leisure for their clear and concise recommendations.


RESOLVED that the SOPG diagnostic highlights be noted.