Edition number 23; dateline 5 December 2008

Coming soon: The Leisure Review News & Jobs
Professionals working in the sport, leisure and culture sector will have a new source of news, opinion and recruitment advertising in the New Year with the launch of The Leisure Review News & Jobs, a fortnightly title being brought to the market by The Leisure Review’s parent company, TLR Communications, and Sport Structures Recruitment Ltd, an off-shoot of Simon Kirkland’s Midlands-based sports development consultancy. Kirkland told The Leisure Review: “The new magazine will offer the sector choice, quality and a focused news and recruitment service that will appeal to recruiters, job seekers and people who want to catch up on industry news when its convenient to them. What will differentiate The Leisure Review News & Jobs is the fact that everyone driving it is from the industry that it has been designed to serve.” The new magazine will be distributed through a variety of partner organisations and by direct subscription, which is going to be free. Potential advertisers should contact Sarah Taylor on 0845 2417196 and subscribers can add their names to the list by sending a preferred postal address to editor@theleisurereview.co.uk. To find out what we think about this remarkable development read Jonathan Ives’ editorial. He’s very excited.

 White-water grafting
A £700,000 revamp of the white water course at the National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont is under way. The upgrade, funded by Sport England, is due to be completed by the end of February and will enable British athletes to practise on the improved course before it is used for the European Canoe Slalom Championships in May. According to Beijing silver medallist David Florence, it is good news. “The upgrade will help us in our bid for more medals in 2012 as it will replicate many of the challenges we’ll face in the Olympic course at Broxbourne,” he said. “The introduction of moveable obstacles will ensure the white water course also provides a great experience for the tens of thousands of sports enthusiasts who use it every year. I hope my Olympic success can persuade even more people to get involved in our great sport.” The news comes as responsibility for the centre moves to Nottinghamshire County Council from April next year.

VAT success for trusts
Sporta, the representative body for cultural and leisure trusts, is celebrating the decision by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to remove VAT liability from membership packages at leisure facilities run by trusts. The decision follows twelve months of discussions between Sporta and HMRC, including assistance from Philip Dunne MP, a member of the Parliamentary public accounts committee. HMRC has now advised Sporta that leisure trusts are entitled to VAT exemption in respect of the sale of all-inclusive membership cards for leisure facilities. Where VAT has been paid on the use of leisure facilities that are exempt from VAT, trusts will be able to reclaim the VAT they have paid for the past three years. Sporta chair Craig McAteer was delighted with the result. “This gives clarity to a long-standing and confusing situation. It is a tremendous relief for Sporta members, who collectively were facing potential retrospective tax bills of several millions of pounds.”

NSA off the launch pad
Lord Young, minister for skills and apprenticeships, Gerry Sutcliffe, minister for sport and celebrated coach Frank Dick were among speakers at the official launch of the National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure. The academy, which has been established with the support of £28 million from employers and funding agencies, aims to provide a single approach to training 85,000 new entrants, existing staff and volunteers each year by 2013.
Florance Orban discusses what the National Skills Academy means for the sport and active leisure sector in this issue.

The debriefing of Beijing: the context for 2012
Nine hundred people gathered in London in the closing days of November to take part in a debriefing following the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The week-long event included representatives of Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014, representatives of the 2016 candidate cities and, of course, London 2012, all discussing the planning and operational aspects of Beijing 2008. From the perspective of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Beijing had been “by almost every measure, an indisputable success”; 204 national Olympic committees took part and medallists came from 87 countries, both figures unprecedented. However, the debriefing gave London 2012 the opportunity to ask specific questions and discuss in private the reality of the organisational task. Gilbert Felli, Olympic Games executive director, commented, “The 2008 Games set new standards of organisation, venues and athletic performances but we can always improve. I’m confident that the London organisers will host a first-class event with a uniquely British atmosphere.” Seb Coe did not speculate on the extent to which ‘British’ might equate to ‘financially expedient’ but he did give some indication of the realities of the situation. Having acknowledged the value of working with the Beijing organising committee during the debrief, he said, “We move forward mindful of the ever-changing economic environment but remaining confident that we can stage Olympic Games and Paralympic Games that the nation wants to see – events which will capture the British spirit and will leave lasting legacies for East London, the nation as a whole as well as the Olympic and Paralympic movements.”

The debriefing of Beijing: behind the headlines
Despite the darkening clouds of the economic crisis the leading figures of LOCOG and the IOC remained up-beat about London 2012 and the prospects for the Olympic movement. Facing the press in a West End hotel at the end of the week, Wang Wei from BOCOG, the Beijing organising committee, was the most up-beat of all, fielding questions both gentle and hostile with a benign approach and broadly similar answers. He assured his audience that Beijing had delivered on its promises to the international community and that great strides had been made in the three key areas: Green Beijing, Technical Beijing and People’s Beijing. Pressed on the issue of the daily press briefings during the Games, which had quickly descended into a non-communicative farce before being cancelled, Wang Wei carefully explained that LOCOG was very well advanced in its preparations for dealing with the level of communication required. While others on the top table were admirably adept at maintaining an IOC line of determined positivity, there were suggestions that the realities of international finances were being recognised. In his opening address to the press, Hein Verbruggen set the tone, saying, “We were impressed by what happened in Beijing but they had almost unlimited resources. You cannot expect that in too many cases.” Gilbert Felli explained the debrief included lessons on what the Games can hope to be in the future. “The Games take place in an ever-changing environment,” he said. “The Games will adapt and evolve.” Asked what the impact of the economic climate might be on the London Games, he replied, “You would need to ask London but we live in a global context. Money was committed at the time of the bid and we still believe it’s the best thing for them [to commit funds]. The Olympic Games are a very important tool in a low economy to improve life.” Seb Coe stated that LOCOG spending was “balanced and on budget”. Asked whether the IOC was getting the Games it had been promised, Felli said that the IOC had put a lot of trust in London’s promises regarding the legacy the Games could bring to Britain. “Up to now they have not missed a step,” he said. Coe said that LOCOG was committed to these promises. “Seventy-five pence of every pound in the budget is directed to regeneraton,” he said. “I can’t think of a project that is more important to London than the Olympic Games.” Asked if it is possible to save money without damaging the Games, Coe was adamant: “We are not scaling down the Olympic Games. The London Games will serve the athletes as well if not better than any other Games. With venues, the village, transportation, athletes were the first concern.”

Expert coaches, expert systems
As part of the work of the UK Coaching Framework, Sportscoach UK hosted a three-day international coaching conference that gave high-level coaches from all over the world the chance to hear and interact with some stellar names. And all in the new conference facilities at Twickenham stadium. Supported by the Rugby Football Union, British Swimming, the International Council for Coach Education and the European Network of Sports Science, Education and Employment, the event gave coaches working at the highest level and coaching system builders from across the globe the chance to exchange ideas and share best practice through workshops, keynote speeches and networking opportunities. The strap line for the conference – the first formal event in which the UK Centre for Coaching Excellence was to the fore  – was ‘Expert Coaches: Expert Systems  – Benchmarking best practice.’  An impressive array of high-profile names from the world of coaching was on show, including Baroness Sue Campbell and Peter Keen from UK Sport, Sir Trevor Brooking from the Football Association, Rob Andrew and Francis Baron from the RFU, and Sir Clive Woodward of the British Olympic Association, who all shared their experiences and expertise in the keynote speeches. Workshops led by respected authorities in coaching, such as Michael Flynn of the Union Cycliste Internationale and Tony Wynd of the Australian Sports Commission, saw delegates split into groups of coaches and coaching system builders. Initial reports are that delegates got a great deal out of the event.
In the February edition of The Leisure Review we hope to carry a more comprehensive and reflective appreciation of the conference with details of who impressed from the podium and which workshops really had the delegates buzzing.

Health centre stage for CSPs
Public health minister Dawn Primarolo used the rather charming platform at the Mary Ward Hall to share two announcements with her audience, the delegates of the Fitness Industry Association industry summit. The minister revealed that the Department of Health will provide funding for county sport partnerships to deliver on their physical activity agenda and also confirmed the support from the Department of Health for the National Physical Activity Alliance.

Scottish Sports Development Conference, 11-12 May 2009
The 2009 Scottish Sports Development Conference will be held on Monday 11 and Tuesday 12 May at the Aviemore Highland Resort. The perenially popular conference will have a title of ‘Sports Development – Debating the Future’ and the organising committee has again invited The Leisure Review to serve as the ‘official media partner’ of the event. TLR has been delighted to accept the honour. As a result details of all things Aviemore-related will be making regular appearances within these very pages. To register your interest please e-mail your contact details to the organisers at conference@firstcityevents.co.uk

Obama gets set to make his cultural mark
What will President Barak Obama bring to the cultural table? While Dubya was a sportsman who could throw a baseball and just about manage not to bankrupt a baseball team, his enthusiasm for cycling left its mark, both on his legacy and his face following numerous tumbles from Mountain Bike One. His dad, H-Dubya, was an enthusiastic golfer, as was  William Jefferson Clinton and so many presidents before him, but the Bush family has not been noted for its wider cultural enthusiasms; suffice to say that in this respect the West Wing, with its ultra-literate, opera- and music-loving President Bartlet, was as wide of the mark as it is possible to get. It may be a pretty safe bet that President ‘BH’ Obama will be the best and most enthusiastic basketball player to grace the Oval Office but his wider cultural tastes are yet to be revealed. The Leisure Review has already got its interview request in the post.

Vanessa Bone
We are very sad to report the death of Vanessa Bone. Vanessa was a passionate and committed advocate of the arts, and the role of art in community development and urban regeneration. She served as a fellow of the Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management (ILAM) and more recently drove the work of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) to bring artists and engineers together in pursuit of common environmental goals. Vanessa had been a keen supporter of The Leisure Review from its inception, as anyone who has visited the letters page will know. We include an appreciation of Vanessa and her work elsewhere in this issue.


News in brief: a fleeting glance

Culture minister Barbara Follett has placed a temporary export bar on a rare George I giltwood twelve-light chandelier. Pure Health and Fitness has opened a club in the Blue City shopping centre in Warsaw, Poland. Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson is again supporting the Redcar half-marathon which takes place on Sunday 19th April 2009. Chelsea, Lambeth and Richmond Railway Bridges in London have all been listed at Grade II, while Cremorne, Hammersmith, Twickenham and Vauxhall Bridges have all been listed at, or upgraded to, Grade II*. Boris Johnson has launched a public referendum on which ten parks on a short list of 47 will receive a share of £400,000 of funding; one park will receive a £2 million refurbishment grant. The first SHOKK franchise in the UK has opened in Dundee. Fire minister Sadiq Khan has launched a new document, ‘Do you have paying guests?’, to give the hospitality industry practical advice on fire safety; including a five-step action plan for reducing fire risks in small establishments. DC Leisure has been awarded the contract to manage High Peak Borough Council’s leisure and swimming facilities. The ten year partnership includes four sites: Buxton Swimming Pool, Glossop Leisure Centre, Glossop Pool and New Mills Leisure Centre. The Oldham Partnership has appointed sport and leisure management consultants Knight Kavanagh & Page to determine feasible site developments for the Caxton Playing Fields.


East End Olympism: coming soon to a capital near you

Andy Burnham announced the allocation of “£550 million of public funding” (which represents the total funding package for the Games between 2006 and 2012). He added: “I have made it clear that we have reached the very limit of public investment in Olympic sport.” Gordon Brown has hosted the inaugural meeting of ‘The Chairman’s Club’, a collective of top-level sponsors of 2012. Work has been completed on new enhanced sailing facilities at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA). The initial findings of KPMG’s review of temporary facilities is that the basketball and equestrian venues should stay where they are, in the Olympic Park and Greenwich Park respectively. Work has begun to remove 52 pylons in the vicinity of the Olympic Park; two 6km tunnels have been built to carry the power cabling.


Who’s whom

Dr Paul Bedford has joined the Leisure Database Company. Research for Paul’s PhD focused on how a gym’s induction affects retention. His application of behavioural change strategies has increased average membership length and significantly reduced cancellations. Bob Lane is the new chair of the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation. John Markham has been appointed to the post of chair of West Northamptonshire Development Corporation. Paul Cluett has joined Alliance Leisure as commercial director. A management consultant with more than twenty years of experience in the leisure industry, Paul will provide the design-and-build arm of the team with commercial and legal support, as well as overseeing Alliance Leisure’s partnering of more than forty leisure centres across the UK.SportScotland has acquired three new board members: Frances Thin, who has many years experience of encouraging sport participation at community level in the Highlands; Professor Grant Jarvie, deputy principal with the University of Stirling and central to its development as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence; and
Mel Young, who co-founded the Homeless World Cup. Anne Pankhurst has been appointed technical editor of Coaching Edge, the quarterly magazine written specially for UK coaches and distributed to members of Sportscoach UK. The president of British Triathlon, Dr Sarah Springman, this month becomes one of four vice presidents of the International Triathlon Union. The DCMS has appointed the following people to the following posts: Anil Ruia, North West chair of Arts Council England; Pippa Cross, board member of the UK Film Council; Rickie Sehgal and Judith Sullivan, independent members of the Legal Deposit Advisory Panel; and Lynda Addison, commissioner of English Heritage.




News in brief
Staccato reports from the cultural typeface

last edition

news daily


other news


In keeping with its ambition to become the acknowledged home of top-class sports events, Manchester welcomed the inaugural BTCB British Open International Taekwondo Championships to the National Squash Centre at SportCity in early November. The competition welcomed British Olympians, including Britain’s first taekwondo medallist, Sarah Stevenson, and provided testing competition for those players looking towards 2012. The event was supported by UK Sport, Manchester City Council and KPMG. The 2009 BTCB national championships will be held at the Manchester velodrome 2-3 May.

Seb Coe makes his point

Jiang Xiaoyu and Wang Wei from BOCOG


Heather Crouch, interim SCUK chair

Floating again: Rushcliffe Borough Council are grasping the opportunity presented by next year’s Inland Waterway Association annual festival being held in Nottingham over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Cabinet member Ron Hetherington has taken on the role of festival chairman and is reportedly keen to promote tourism on the back of the event. “The council are very keen to support the event and as I have a particular interest in tourism, I will be delighted to work with the team and share my knowledge and contacts to ensure the success of the festival,” he said.

Simon Kirkland

an independent view for the leisure industry








about us

contact us