Edition number 12; dateline 14 March 2008

Coming soon to a computer near you: LIW TV
It may only be March but the good people at Leisure Industry Week are already directing our thoughts to September when the great and the good of the sport and leisure sector will be gathering at the NEC for several days of stands and sessions. The latest addition to the list of attractions is LIW TV, a broadband stream bringing video content from the show’s exhibitors, speakers and sponsors. Scheduled for launch in April and available online, the channel will provide a range of preview material in advance of the event and provide live feeds during the show.

Nottingham redux
Some of the leading lights of the sports development sector are scheduled to meet in the next few weeks to explore the future of the National Sports Development Seminar. Representatives of TLR Communications Ltd, publishers of The Leisure Review, will be among those around the table but at the time of going to press other individuals and organisations who had accepted the invitation to attend were unconfirmed. Mick Owen, TLR managing editor and director of TLR Communications, commented, “We are very keen to be involved. It’s an event that has been a regular feature of the leisure calendar for the last seventeen years and it has played an important role in delivering training and skills for the sports development sector. It would be a shame to see it disappear for the want of some effort so we think it’s worthwhile to discuss how it might continue.”
• Anyone wishing to receive further details of the Nottingham project can contact Mick Owen at The Leisure Review.

Pathfinders for play
Fifteen local authorities will be selected next month by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to serve as play pathfinders. Sixty-five authorities have been invited to submit proposals for the development of playground facilities as part of a £225m investment programme for play and the successful bids will each receive £2m in capital funding plus “significant revenue funding”. The brief for the bids includes requirements for work with children and communities to develop innovative and challenging play opportunities. The DCSF has also stressed the need for the provision of staffed adventure playground facilities along with accessibility and natural landscapes. Any authorities who are not selected for pathfinder status will still be eligible for £1m capital funding grants to develop play facilities and a second round of funding open to all local authorities will be held in the autumn. The government aims to develop 3,500 public play areas by 2011.

Government plans for post-casino regeneration
Having pulled the plug on the super casino concept, the government took steps to explain the grounds for the decision and mollify those hoping for investment in Blackpool and Manchester. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) issued a report, A Review of the Alternative Approaches to Regional Casino-Led Regeneration, explaining why the idea had not been a sensible proposal from the outset. According to the DCLG, the report “shows that the benefits of regional casinos can be delivered through alternative, but equally effective, projects” and finds that “in isolation it would be challenging for any alternatives to achieve the scale of economic benefits that could be secured through a regional casino, but that there is uncertainty around the extent to which these benefits are truly additional”. The report was followed by announcement of a £10m investment in Manchester’s Sportcity from English Partnership, money that “will be used for site preparation, in order to unlock the huge potential for leisure, commercial and sporting activity and create new jobs”. Blackpool’s package was on a larger scale altogether, some £300m for projects including £100m for new schools, a £100m transport package and £82m to improve sea defences and invest in local events.
A Review of the Alternative Approaches to Regional Casino-Led Regeneration is available from the DCLG website via this link.

The playing field debate: Sport England’s figures
Planning applications affecting playing fields in the period 2005-06 protected or improved sports provision in 97% of cases, according to data published by Sport England this week. Of 1,216 applications, only forty resulted in a negative impact on sport and none of these resulted in a whole playing field being lost; in its role as statutory consultee on planning applications affecting playing fields, Sport England lodged formal objectives in all forty cases. Minister for sport Gerry Sutcliffe said that the figures showed as myth the claims that playing fields were being lost. “We have put strong measures in place to protect sport playing fields and sports provision for communities up and down the country,” he said. “These measures are working.”

Boxing to tackle school attendance
Members of the Royal Navy boxing club will be providing an introduction to the sport at the opening of an eight-week course for pupils at the Voyager School in Peterborough. The after-school sessions are part of an initiative to improve school attendance rates and Chris Davitt, Peterborough’s school sports co-ordinator, is confident that the sessions will generate a new enthusiasm for sports activity at the school. “There’s been a huge amount of interest for the classes, which are all about having fun, learning new skills and improving fitness,” he said. “Our experience has shown that children who take part in physical activity in school have a higher record of attendance than those that don’t.” Chris has worked with local ABA coach Phil Prout, who runs an amateur boxing club in the area, to introduce the non-contact classes at the Voyager School. Escape Fitness has agreed to provide the necessary equipment, including boxing gloves, skipping ropes and free-standing punch bags, to support the scheme. Peterborough’s thirteen secondary schools will be monitoring the initiative with a view to introducing it across the city.

Convenience food for thought
The DCLG has also been at the forefront of the debate on the decline of the public lavatory across the UK. Communities minister Baroness Andrews launched a strategic guide to encourage local authorities to consider how they might provide better quality toilets and better access to them. “We think that the state of our public toilets should indeed be a mark of civic and community pride,” the minister said. “The guide will say that being able to use clean and accessible public loos are important to everyone.” Possible approaches include a ‘satlav’ scheme to indicate the nearest facilities, a community toilet scheme to encourage local shops and businesses to offer access to their own facilities, greater provision through the planning system and the right for local authorities to charge for access to public lavatories. Whether all this important work was marred or enhanced by the title of the briefing note was unclear but only a heart of stone could have resisted the temptation: ‘Government toilet plans: all cisterns go’.

End of a riparian era
After a number of false starts, it seems that leisure is finally leaving Lower Basildon. ISPAL is currently packing up and will be in new premises after Easter. They will be leaving the Grotto, more familiar to many people over many years as ILAM House, to new owners and making the new start that no doubt befits a new organisation. Members of all the organisations that have called the house by the Thames home since 1953 will have many fond memories. We would be delighted to receive some of them so we can give the old place a decent send-off.


News in brief yet briefer

In June Kensington Palace will be marking the fiftieth anniversary of the last presentation of debutantes at court with an exhibition of gowns and couture titled The Last Debutantes: 1958, A Season of Change. The Club Company is to invest £2m in an extensive upgrade of the Tytherington Club in Macclesfield, Cheshire. Members and staff from Esporta Devonshire have set a new world record by running 417 miles in 48 hours, raising money for Children in Need as they went. The Swimming Teachers’ Association has extended its international partnership agreement with the Dubai-based First Security Group until 2012, under which the STA provides accredited life guarding, swimming and first aid qualifications. DC Leisure has commissioned Sport England’s National Benchmarking Service for its sites.

News from the departments: a News in Brief guide to Whitehall

New unitary councils in Cornwall, County Durham, Northumberland, Shropshire and Wiltshire have now received Parliamentary approval. The DCSF has launched a £6m initiative to develop leadership among young people. The department has also announced a package of over £27million of funding and business support for five charities working with young people: Kids Company, Speaking Up, Fairbridge, UK Youth and Leap. Communities secretary Hazel Blears has unveiled plans for a new white paper focused on empowering citizens. Ed Balls, secretary of state for children, young people and families, announced a government parenting programme which notes that “kids don’t come with an instruction manual”.


Who’s whom

Capita Symonds’ sports and leisure consulting team has appointed Tim Cantle-Jones as associate director for innovation. Tim will be focusing on business development across major events facility development, business planning and revenue generation. A former chairman of the North East Regional Sports Board, Tim has been involved with the 2012 Nations and Regions Committee and he is currently leading Sport England's review on equality. Mick Elliott, currently chief executive of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, has been appointed as the new director of culture at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Mr Elliott, who is also associate cultural director of Liverpool Capital of Culture, will take up his post in June.


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The Grotto
The Grotto: packing up down by the river

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