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local


leisure


Proving outcomes: Local authorities will have to prove they offer value for money, says ISPAL chair Peter Mann


Peter Mann Chair, ISPAL


The next few years will change the face of local authority leisure. The extent of this change will depend on the level of government grant to councils and the priority given to leisure services. As a discretionary service, leisure is


more exposed than other local authority services. While the public sector will remain at the heart of leisure, I believe we’ll witness a focus away from direct provision towards a promoting, facilitating and commissioning role. Leisure departments will need to


actively promote the benefi ts that leisure and culture bring to a community:


Peter Howells


Operations director, Leisure Connection


At Leisure Connection, we’re working closely with our local authority partners to look at how we can support them through the tough years ahead. The next three to fi ve years will be


crucial, but we expect to come out the other side. For those authorities that have already outsourced leisure, I think it will be a time to review how operators are working. For those that haven’t, it could be an attractive prospect.


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social inclusion, general wellbeing, crime reduction and health. Although undervalued in a diffi cult fi nancial climate, these can bind communities together during hard times. There will also need to be a greater


emphasis on building links with local employers, to facilitate the fi nancial and human resources potentially available via company corporate social responsibility programmes. Reviewing the objectives of these programmes may open up new opportunities for companies and councils to work together. Another role could be the purchasing


of specifi c outcomes, activities or time from other public sector providers, such as schools or new community, third sector or private sector providers. Facility rationalisation appears


unavoidable and only the best located, The biggest change in the last 20


years of local authority leisure has been the outsourcing of leisure as a non- statutory service. As a result, private operators have entered the market and have invested millions in the provision of public access leisure and other cultural facilities. To the end user, the quality of the service has signifi cantly improved. Local authority leisure centres are no longer the poor relation in the industry. Leisure Connection is now broadening


the scope of the projects it manages. We’ve taken on various outreach programmes for sport and the community and manage numerous theatres, arts centres and arts outreach programmes.


Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital


best managed and output-driven facilities may survive the cuts. Facilities might be scaled down to a central hub site only. Where local authorities continue providing direct leisure services, they will need to demonstrate that they offer value for money, through optimising income, driving down costs and continuing to develop enhanced facilities and products which refl ect the quality expectations of their customers. ISPAL and ISRM are working with


the Privy Council and key stakeholders towards the potential creation of the Chartered Institute of Sport. This new institute won’t solve all the challenges, but it will play a key role in helping us become more adept at managing, pioneering, facilitating, promoting and commissioning the services our communities so urgently need.


For Leisure Connection, despite the


spending review, it’s still business as usual: focusing on our swim and gym revenue lines, managing our cost base, especially utilities, and looking at where to make investments. In terms of the future, we experience


a great deal of interest in our health and community hub in Downham Leisure Centre, managed on behalf of the London Borough of Lewisham. This project houses a state of the art leisure centre and swimming pool but also a community access point, numerous surgeries and practices and a popular library. This type of integrated facility could become the future for new provision and services.


february 2011 © cybertrek 2011


©EAST LINDSEY DC


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