Agenda item

Update on Leisure Strategy

A verbal update will be provided from Strategic Leisure.


Liz Taylor of Strategic Leisure provided a verbal update on the Leisure Strategy, including the following:

·        Site audits were completed in November 2021 for all indoor sports facilities included within the scope of work for the Leisure Strategy and for artificial turf pitches, often located adjacent to indoor provision within the district.  It had not been possible to gain access to a small number of leisure facilities including, for security reasons, the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) at Lympstone;

·        Stakeholder consultation was ongoing, exploring leisure needs and what is good and bad within the district.  Conversations had also taken place with Planning teams in neighbouring authorities with a view to understanding their facilities and future development plans which could impact East Devon District Council (EDDC) decisions going forward;

·        Sports club and school surveys had gone out and the closing date for these was 15th February.  A community survey would follow shortly but this tended to be skewed in terms of the demographic of people who completed them, with a particularly high response rate from the retired population.  Depending on response rate, they might ask some schools to push the survey out to students, to get a more representative sample of responses;

·        A supply and demand analysis was being completed, exploring the quality of facilities and whether they met current demand, as well as looking at future demand for those facilities.  This would give an indication of the level of future provision needed to cater for population growth.


Ms Taylor invited questions.


In discussion, the following points were made:

·        Responding to a question about timescales, Ms Taylor indicated that there had been some delays for a number of reasons but she anticipated the report would be completed towards end May/early June 2022;

·        A Member sought to better understand the factors taken into account in assessing the impact on the facility planning model of leisure facilities provided by neighbouring authorities.  Ms Taylor explained that the model looked specifically at sports halls, swimming pools and indoor bowls, considering exported and imported demand by calculating the proportion of people going out of the district to undertake leisure activities and those coming in from neighbouring authorities, and assessing the balance of these factors;

·        Conversation took place around the anticipated challenges of converting recommendations arising from the report into infrastructure on the ground, given financial constraints.  The Strategic Lead Finance commented that Strategic Leisure were fully aware of constraints on local authority funding and, as part of their remit, would deliver recommendations for leisure provision that they and EDDC could work on together;

·        A Member asked whether common themes had emerged from Strategic Leisure’s conversations with other local authorities.  Ms Taylor responded that every local authority was in a slightly different place, and shared that two neighbouring authorities in another county had worked collaboratively to jointly finance a new leisure facility for the benefit of the residents of both boroughs, as an example of what could be achieved;

·        A Member commented that he could try to assist Strategic Leisure in approaching CTCRM for access, but questioned the relevance of assessing their leisure facilities given they were not available to the outside community.  Ms Taylor expressed thanks for the offer and said it was her understanding that the facilities were available for hire by sports clubs and associations but, for security reasons, it was usually necessary to have a sponsor to gain access;

·        In respect to the community survey, a Member commented on the importance of gathering the views of the working-age population as well as students and the retired, in order to form a valid evidence-base for the strategy.   Ms Taylor remarked that the working age group were difficult to contact, and success was often dependent on participation via social media.  Ideas for engaging with this group included via schools’ electronic newsletters, or asking large employers in the district to circulate the survey link, if EDDC could provide Ms Taylor with the contacts;

·        In clarification, Ms Taylor stated that Active Devon had helped in drafting the questions for the community survey with a view to understanding people’s leisure habits and where they participate in leisure; it was hoped this would capture leisure activities which are not part of a formally constituted club, such as keep fit, yoga etc taking place in church or community halls.