Edition number 49; dateline 6 April 2011

Yet more Insights for coaches
It has already been announced that The Leisure Review Coaching Insight set for Nottingham Trent University on 29 June will feature John Lyle, formerly of Leeds Metropolitan University, John Driscoll from Sportscoach UK and David Batch of Premier Sport debating whether coaching is a “profession, vocation or business opportunity”. Hard on the heels of this news comes the announcement that Warrington on 12 May will see John Mills of British Cycling and the UCI, David Haskins of Liverpool John Moores University and the RFU’s Ian Thompson come together to consider “innovations in coaching and coach education”. Both three-hour afternoon workshops will cost £15 thanks to the support of Sport Nottinghamshire, Sport Cheshire and GreaterSport and can be booked through The Leisure Review’s events page.

GLL win big
GLL have won the Social Enterprise Mark Holder of the Year award and been presented with their prize at the UK final at The O2 in London. Peter Holbrook, CEO of the Social Enterprise Coalition, congratulated the company, which runs 90 leisure facilities within the M25, saying: “The Social Enterprise Coalition received a record number of responses to this year’s awards so to have come out on top is a truly remarkable achievement.”

Push-bike partnership probe partly published
UK Sport has announced the key findings of the review into the impact of British Cycling’s involvement with Sky on the governing body’s (NGB) World Class Performance Programme. The review, conducted by Deloitte, was initiated owing to misgivings about the partnership and particularly the joint role held by David Brailsford. While all partners claimed the report exonerated the NGB, the report did “highlight issues with the clarity of roles and responsibilities of key staff, of financial accounting and transparency between the two programmes, and the need for more effective communication between the various partners” and positive recommendations were made. The full report was withheld lest it prove to be of value to the GB team’s competitors.

Parkour to inspire London youngsters
People beyond the M25 may not be au fait with the London 2012 Inspire mark but the 1000th one has been awarded to a parkour-based project called Jump London which aims to “create 500 new coaches between now and the Games, creating more opportunities for people to participate in the sport”. Parkour UK chief executive Eugene Minogue and free-running Casino Royale actor Sébastien Foucan received the award from LOCOG chief executive Paul Deighton at St Pancras station. Minogue told The Leisure Review: “Through Parkour we are looking to inspire young people to be active in a fun and exciting way, and being able to link to the London 2012 Games is an incredible opportunity to really enable us to deliver that message.”

New marina for Manchester
Work has started to link the Rochdale and Ashton Canals with East Manchester’s New Islington development. A forty-berth marina is planned to open in the summer. The work is going ahead following a £4.4 million investment from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) who join the Homes and Communities Agencies, Manchester City Council and developers Urban Splash in the partnership to regenerate this part of the city.

Quarter of million is not chicken feed
The British Hen Welfare Trust has rescued its 250,000th battery hen but is urging its supporters to do more. The chicken charity works through a network of volunteers to re-home ex-battery birds rather then see them go from the poultry purgatory in which most supermarket eggs are produced straight to slaughter. Instead the hens are given a chance to experience a normal life, often in suburban back gardens. As well as rescuing hens the trust also lobbies for change in the law to improve the lot of the world’s layers and charity founder Jane Howorth is urging supporters to keep political pressure on the European parliament where a long-awaited cage ban, due next year, is under threat because farmers in some countries have dragged their feet on implementing necessary changes.

All change at Harrow on the Hill
The Harrow Observer has reported that social enterprise GLL has taken over the management of three of Harrow Council’s facilities previously under the care of Leisure Connections. The paper say that Leisure Connection, which had been looking after the centres since 1997, “had run into problems in the past at the leisure centre with customer complaints, spates of thefts from lockers and cars, police closures of Byron Hall and the discovery of unacceptable levels of ammonia in the pool”. The interim deal might save Harrow Council £400,000 and will run for two years.

B-ball beggared by Sport England
The Sport England board has decided that England Basketball's plans “do not adequately address the challenge” of increasing participation in the sport and has cut funding to the governing body by £1.2 million, funding that was dependent on the sport’s ability to produce a “robust strategy” for growing itself. The decision was made partly on the fact that the Active People survey has shown the number of adults playing basketball at least once a week declined from 186,000 at the start of this funding period (October 2008) to 154,100 at the latest update. Sport England’s chief executive, Jennie Price, said: “England Basketball has not demonstrated the necessary focus on improving its plans for increasing participation, despite continued support and encouragement to do so. This was an important factor in our decision.”

Olympic hockey gets the blues
For the first time at an Olympic Games the hockey competition will be contested on blue pitches and British suppliers will be disappointed to find they will be manufactured by Melbourne-based Advanced Polymer Technology Australasia. The decision to move away from the standard green pitch will provide high levels of contrast with the white ball and lines for players, officials, spectators, photographers and broadcasters. The pitches at the London Games will also feature pink run-off areas, although this may well just be an aesthetic decision. The new surface will be made from something called Poligrass which the manufacturer’s managing director, Dr Martin Schlegel, claims “is the paradigm for the future of the sport by combining vibrant new colour schemes, environmentally responsible technology and exacting playability characteristics demanded by elite hockey athletes”.


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The national news from a cultural perspective

Monday 11 April
U2’s current world tour is likely to earn the band in the region of $700 million, a new record for rock tours. David Cameron says that local authorities are deliberately spoiling people’s plans for royal wedding street parties; a nation shrugs its shoulders and says ‘Meh’ in response. In France the government’s ban on veils in public spaces begins, along with challenges from Muslim women wearing the niqab and the burqa.

Tuesday 12 April
Action for Happiness launches, noting that after 60 years of getting richer as a society we’re no happier. The Commons foreign affairs committee says that the cuts to the BBC World Service should be reversed. Still in Westminster, John Major has written a book about music hall. Batman is the latest superhero to be given the musical treatment and will open in Manchester in July.

Wednesday 13 April
Having recently decried the low number of students of black or ethnic minority backgrounds at Oxford University, the prime minister plays another race card (the Tory Top Trump?) calling for restrictions on immigration and suggesting that everyone coming to the UK should learn English. The National Portrait Gallery unveils the short list for the annual portrait award, worth £25,000 to the winner. The 100 Antony Gormley statues on Crosby beach should be scrapped says a local politician, arguing that they cost £250,000 a year to maintain. The Arts Fund announces that it will make an additional £2.5 million available to galleries to purchase works of art; it also launches the National Art Pass which will give members free entry to 200 museums and reduced prices for some shows. Insolvency specialists Begbies Traynor says it has seen a 60% rise in companies “in distress” in the culture and leisure sector, with sports and recreation showing a 23% increase. Arsenal beat Chelsea in the inaugural game of the FA Women’s Super League.

Thursday 14 April
A pub in London’s Soho, the John Snow, throws out a two men for having the temerity to kiss – in public; in a pub; in Soho; shocking. London 2012, “the public transport Games”, will bring a lot more people onto the capital’s public transport system, reveals a report by the London Assembly. In Paris Olivier Py, the writer/director of the celebrated Théâtre de l’Odéon, which has been enjoying a run of critically acclaimed productions, is sacked by the government, leading to uproar in French arts circles (and probably the stalls as well). In China the government has banned all television dramas featuring time travel. Birmingham City might not be able to play in Europe unless they can convince the FA and the Premier League that their finances are sound (our prediction: City will be playing in Europe). Meanwhile, the Premier League is putting its weight behind a campaign to tackle antisemitism at matches. Leyton Orient’s chairman, Barry Hearn, is challenging a £40 million loan made to West Ham by Newham Council and the mayor of London, a loan that is part of the deal to take West Ham to the Olympic stadium in due course.

Friday 15 April
At the John Snow in Soho 300 people gather for an evening kiss-in; the pub closes mid-afternoon, premumably to prevent its incredibly timid and reactionary staff from witnessing anything that might upset them. The police and Virgin Trains add their voices to those telling the FA that holding the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley is daft, not least because all four teams are of a northerly persuasion and will all have to travel south. Last year saw an small increase in the numbers of independent record shops in the UK, a reversal of an apparently inexorable trend; there are now 281. You can now hire Liechtenstein for $70,000 a night, all of it. Brian Kennedy, owner of Sale Sharks, says that “the game [rugby union] in the north is dying”, despite his investment of £16 million into Sale and Stockport County.

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