Edition number 16; dateline 30 May 2008

Ministers play out
Government ministers are encouraging children to get involved with playground design as part of the Fair Play consultation on the future of children’s play announced in April. Children between the ages of eight and thirteen are being invited to visit a new website to offer their views on what a good playground might look like. Supported by a poster campaign, the site asks young people a series of questions linked to the concepts of play and invites them to pick items of equipment appropriate to their own play environment. Kevin Brennan, minister for children and young people, said, “The website and posters are designed to inspire children to get involved in our consultation and tell us what makes play fun for them. We want to ensure that their ideas and needs are at the heart of everything we are doing to create safe, child-friendly public spaces and to make this country the best place in the world to grow up.” Sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe hoped that the initiative “will revive outdoor play for children up and down the country”.
• Find full details of the scheme at the DCSF website

Working in Fitness
SkillsActive and the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPS) have launched the 2008 Working in Fitness survey. The survey seeks the views of everyone working in the health and fitness sector, whether full- or part-time, self-employed or staff, and asks for comments on salary levels, job satisfaction and spending on training and development. Liz Smith, research manager at SkillsActive, urged everyone in the sector to respond so that the survey can give an accurate picture of the nature of employment in the fitness industry. “In previous research for our Sector Skills Agreement we estimated an average 8,500 job openings a year to meet staff turnover and the creation of new positions,” Liz said. “One of the survey aims is to find out whether the industry is doing enough to attract new, as well as retain existing staff to meet these future demands. Those completing the survey can be assured that the results will be totally confidential and will be analysed anonymously. The results will be reported at regional and occupational levels only, ensuring no one will be able to identify individual answers.” Now in its fifth year, the survey is the largest annual survey of people working in the health and fitness sector and it hopes to surpass last year’s total of 1,800 responses. The survey will be live until 14 July on the SkillsActive website and all respondents will be entered for a draw for a £250 training prize.

Royal palaces invite bids online
Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that looks after five royal venues including the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace, has taken a novel approach to fund-raising by offering individual lots on Ebay. Members of the public are being invited to bid for a range of ‘Toplots’, including rare opportunities to get behind the scenes at some of London’s most historic buildings. Lots include a private tour of the Crown Jewels, firing a medieval siege engine in the Tower of London moat with TV presenter Dan Snow and a roof-top tour of Hampton Court with all proceeds going towards the upkeep of Historic Royal Palace sites. Details of the auction are available online at www.hrp.org.uk and the auction runs until 15 June.

Managing sports volunteers: get qualified!
Runningsports has launched its Level 3 qualification, Managing Sports Volunteers, at its first annual conference. The qualification, which has been based on Volunteering England’s Excellence in Volunteer Management, is the first vocational qualification that sports development professionals and leisure managers have been able to pick up outside of the university system for many years. The first taught course is now being run by KAM Ltd in the Eastern Region and will be rolled out across the country from the autumn. Potential learners can contact Kay Adkins, KAM managing director, via this link for further details.

Managing sports volunteers: get informed!
Empowering Today’s Volunteer Managers, the first South East regional volunteer managers conference, is to take place at the International Lawn Tennis Centre in Eastbourne, East Sussex on 6 November. The independently organised conference will aim to recognise and support the work of the volunteer co-ordinator or manager whether in a small club or a big organisation and will offer a choice of practical and interactive workshops, as well as fantastic networking opportunities and an award ceremony to recognise the achievements of the region’s volunteer managers. To take advantage of the early bird booking price go to www.mccrudden-training.co.uk or call 0845 257 5871.

New partnership for National Gallery
The National Gallery and has announced a major partnership with Credit Suisse. In a three-year arrangement Credit Suisse will sponsor a landmark Sainsbury Wing exhibition each year, the first of which will be Radical Light: Italy’s Divisionist Painters 1891–1910, which opens on 18 June, and will also sponsor the gallery’s late-night opening programme, which attracts 170,000 people each year. There will also be special educational projects for schools and community organisations already supported by the bank.

leisure focus for community empowerment legislation
Details of a new community empowerment, housing and economic regeneration bill expected later this year have been released with leisure, culture and sport at the centre of the government’s explanation of the positive aspects of the proposal. In a press release from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), communities secretary Hazel Blears outlined how ‘petition power’ would enable local people to trigger action and influence decisions on local services. Three new powers were indicated, each highlighting significant impact on local leisure services. The powers were described thus (and we quote at length):
“• A new right to ask for a stronger say on spending decisions that affect them or their communities. This could mean for example asking councils to direct more money from multi-million pound budgets to tackling drug dealing on estates, more community wardens and facilities like more skateboard parks or youth clubs.
• A new right to ensure councils consider the sale or transfer of under-used properties, lands or parks to local community groups, co-ops and social enterprises. So a disused shopping or community centre could be handed over to local people to ensure publicly owned assets properly benefit local people rather than just being left redundant.
• A new right to force a debate on specific local issues onto the council agenda. So if local people are unhappy with the closure of a local swimming pool or the standard of local housing they can hold their council to account by forcing a debate to get action on the issue.”

This summer’s mid-winter event
TLR’s favourite southern hemisphere event, AquaRec, is now booking. For all your aquatic and recreation needs under one roof book your place at AquaRec 2008, 28 - 29 August, in Melbourne. Find the brochure and registration form at www.aquarecvic.org.au/aquarec.htm

Next summer’s early summer event
The Scottish Sports Development Seminar working group are set to confirm that the fifth edition of their cross-sector conference will be taking place in Aviemore in mid-May 2009. Within a fortnight ‘early bird’ notices will be winging their way to prospective delegates, who, we are told, can expect to be “talked with, not talked at” during the course of an event with the theme of Debating the Future. TLR will present further details as they become available.


Around the corridors

Defra has announced that as of International Biodiversity Day (22 May) bat and wintering waterbird numbers will for the first time be used to measure the health of the UK's wildlife. Communities secretary Hazel Blears has heralded a new era of ‘parish power’ where parishes have a real purpose in modern society. A Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) initiative will see independent and state schools join forces to raise the aspirations of talented pupils and encourage more disadvantaged children to go to university; Eton College has signed up. New advice on how to get young people involved in their school and learn important citizenship skills has been published by the DCSF. The Department for Communities and Local Government have announced a £35 million funding pot for new schemes that will create parklands, town squares and riverside pathways in the Thames Gateway. Olympics minister Tessa Jowell welcomed the IOC report on 2012 progress. “We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that London hosts Olympic and Paralympic Games we can all be proud of,” she said. The DCMS has announced ten successful pilot areas for the Find your Talent programme, which will “give young people the chance to encounter a wide range of high-quality cultural experiences for five hours a week”.


Who’s whom

Simon Fairhall has been promoted to the post of chief executive officer for Living Sport, the county sports partnership for Cambridge and Huntingdonshire. Also out east, Ian Jackson, former vice-chair of NASD, has taken up his new post as senior competitions manager for Suffolk. The Department for Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced that Tony Hales has been reappointed chair of British Waterways for a further three years. The post carries a salary of £49,366 for two days a week, which will go with the £50,000 Mr Hales receives from the Ministry of Defence for his role as the non-executive chairman of NAAFI Ltd. Four new members have been appointed to the Zoos Forum: Dr John Eddison, David Field, Dr David Price and Sharon Redrobe. The Zoos Forum is the government's independent advisory body on zoo matters and the appointments run until 31 March 2011. Lord Smith of Finsbury, also known as former heritage secretary Chris Smith, has been appointed as the new chairman of the Environment Agency, replacing Sir John Harman, who stands down at the end of June after eight years. The post brings a salary of £102,000 for a time commitment of approximately three days per week. Following a successful twelve months as group operations manager, Andy King has been promoted to operations director for Serco Leisure. Andy also takes a place on the board of directors. Nicole Farhi has been presented with an honorary CBE (Commander of the British Empire) by culture secretary Andy Burnham in recognition of her services to the fashion industry. Louise Martin CBE has been announced as the new chair of SportScotland. She has a long association with the organisation, both as a board member and in her capacity as chairman of the Commonwealth Games Council for Scotland. Another Scot on the move is former PMP operative Dougal Nicholls, who leaves Capita Symonds to join, well, PMP. He goes to their Manchester office as director of consulting.



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Hampton Court Palace
Top lot: Historic Royal Palaces has put a number of unique experiences up for auction as part of its ongoing fund-raising initiative
Photo: newsteam.co.uk/HRP


Andy King
Andy King: now operations director at Serco

an independent view for the leisure industry








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