Edition number 4; dateline 5 October 2007

LIW: the editor’s selection
The Leisure Review was invited by the good people at Leisure Industry Week to have a hand in the exhibition’s innovation award, an initiative by which the most novel and exciting products and services in each of the show’s sections could be brought into the limelight. Armed with a show guide, a map of the show space and the best intentions, the TLR team headed off among the bright lights and lycra to see what they could find. Their conclusion was that across the show there was plenty of energy, plenty of effort and plenty of investment on display, all of which seemed to be in the service of new approaches to existing concepts. There was no lack of imagination or presentational skill but in the hunt for genuine, jaw-dropping innovation it seemed that we had come up short. This is not to say that we did not find a great many things of interest. There were excellent examples of the leisure industry’s famous adaptability, not least weather-proof flat-screen TVs and all nature of pergolas, pagodas and conservatories to meet the needs of clients determined to smoke whatever the weather. The minutiae of the brewing industry and licensed trade were endlessly fascinating and we noted good trade at both the wine-tasting classes and the slightly less formal beer-tasting stands. Everything from cutlery polishers and air fresheners to software and fitness equipment grabbed our attention but innovation was the watchword that had been firmly drummed into us. We pressed on. The Handysitt, an ingenious solution to the problem of bulky restaurant high chairs, caught our eye but, for all its excellence in design, it’s been around for twenty years. The Airquee ArenaXtreme inflatable sports arena drew special note for its versatility, as did the Cyclepod, a new approach to bicycle parking that offers ease of access and space efficiency. Also noted were the efforts of Polepeople International to promote a new mode of exercise, creating a new use from a, er, more traditional pursuit not usually associated with the mainstream leisure market. Our final conclusion was to fudge the issue, amending the criteria from ‘innovation’ to ‘in our opinion’. We’re looking forward to next year already.

The Leisure Review editor’s LIW selection:
Cyclepods: a new approach to bicycle parking and a great addition to sustainable transport
Airquee ArenaXtreme: eight sports options from one inflatable
Polepeople International and Vertical Leisure: a new angle on a more traditional fitness and dance environment.
Handysitt: Scandinavian design brings simple solution to sitting high when you’re only small

Moving heaven and earth to get to Scotland
Galvanised by the threat of the national postal strike, the organisers of the Scottish Sports Development Conference moved heaven and earth to get the event booking form on to people's desks this week and have been rewarded by an avalanche of faxed returns. Joyce Lamond of event managers First City Events told us: "Such is the draw of the conference that people have turned the forms round really quickly, dusted off their fax machines and made sure of their places. Given the response I would advise anyone who wants to book a specific workshop do so now."

More coaches, longer hours
Culture secretary James Purnell has announced a new initiative to recruit ten thousand new sports coaches. The scheme, which will be funded by the DCMS to the tune of £5m over three years, will focus on voluntary community coaches in the seventy most deprived areas in the country. Ten thousand coaches will, according to the DCMS, deliver three million extra coaching hours, helping to create stronger communities, increased participation and a new stream of sporting talent. The initiative is to be delivered by SportsCoach UK, Sport England and sports national governing bodies. The DCMS also anticipates that their £5m will be matched by sponsorship from the private sector.

Fear and the fortress
The Tower of London is offering behind-the-scenes, after-hours, in-the-dark tours to groups this winter. Wednesday evenings from November through until February will see the yeoman warders leading visitors around the castle, offering all the gory stories that mediaeval and early modern history has to offer, and generally attempting to give everyone the fear. Book now before the light evenings come and spoil everything. 

New status for Battersea Power Station
More than three years after the original application, Battersea Power Station has had its listing raised from Grade II to Grade II*.  According to the DCMS, the decision follows a site inspection, a period of consultation and acceptance of the English Heritage recommendation. Celebrated as one of the largest brick buildings in Europe, its Art Deco interiors and the work of Giles Gilbert Scott, the power station has continued to cut an impressive figure on London’s skyline since it was decommissioned in 1983. However, up close it is a forlorn figure, a victim of successive property development companies that have been working to come up with a viable and profitable scheme while the building, roofless for many years, suffers continuing structural damage. While culture minister Margaret Hodge whittered on about how the building was important because it had once been in a Hitchcock film, had once been on a Pink Floyd album cover and had once been on telly (the “BBC TV series New Tricks” anyone?), Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, was slightly closer to the mark with his comment that “Battersea’s outstanding exterior has a grandeur and scale more like the ruins of a Roman basilica”. This may well be because it has been little more than a ruin for best part of twenty years. Some commentators have noted that had the government and Mr Thurley’s own organisation actually pulled its historic-building-protecting finger out and put the nation’s architectural heritage above the interests of property development, Ms Hodge might not have had to lament “the interior losses” and “the remaining merits”.

Off-road options for national parks
As of 1 October national parks have been given new powers to restrict the access of motor vehicles to rights of way and unsurfaced roads. With the growth in the popularity of off-road motoring, many greenways have become regular routes for off-road cars and motorcycles, leading to conflict; walkers and others wanting to access the countryside for peaceful recreation on one side of the argument and off-roaders pursuing their legal right to drive on designated rights of way on the other. The new powers are set out in Section 72 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. For more information go to http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-countryside/issues/public/index.htm



Doug Hulyer and Pam Warhurst have been reappointed to the board of Natural England, the statutory body with responsibility for enhancing and managing the natural environment. Doug Hulyer is an independent advisor on people and nature programmes and projects. He was previously the director of conservation programmes for the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. Pam Warhurst is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Manufacturing, and chair of a social enterprise in the North of England. It’s not usually a good idea for public relations people to be in the news but noted leisure specialists Promote PR have added Vicky Kiernander and Laura Kettle to their team. Vicky has joined as senior account manager after seven years at the Leisure Media Company, where she was the managing editor of Health Club Management magazine for four years and also worked on both Leisure Opportunities and Leisure Management. Laura joins as an account manager. Laura graduated from Stirling University with a degree in marketing and sport studies, subsequently pursuing a career in athlete management and sports sponsorship.


News in brief
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LIW on the table
LIW: looking for innovation at the NEC


Battersea Power Station
Battersea Power Station, now upgraded to Grade II following the latest DCMS decision

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