Edition number 66; dateline 6 November 2012

Business-based cycling scheme recycled
The re-branding of the government’s Cycle to Work Guarantee scheme as Businesscycle is being hailed by campaigners as indicative that the scheme, aimed at encouraging more and safer bike-based commuting, is not on the list of austerity-justified budget cuts. Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge and co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group hosted a breakfast re-launch for the scheme which was created by the Departments of Health, Transport and Culture in 2009. Also on the platform was Chris Boardman, keen to promote the safe cycling aspirations of Businesscycle, even though the government is not providing any major new funds to create safer routes. Boardman was quoted as saying: “It’s the environment that will make it safer. The government need to get more people riding bikes. Three hundred miles away in Denmark people are riding bikes in their suits on their way to work, for leisure, and everyone is happy. We need to change the philosophy around road design.”

Gender watchdog demands NGB funding cut
Chief executive of the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF) Sue Tibballs is reported to be agitating to have national governing bodies of sport (NGB) hit in the pocket if they fail to meet UK Sport and Sport England targets for gender equality in governance. WSFF has published a list of NGBs that have no female board members or too few and Tibballs has gone on record as saying, “These sports have to serve and represent the whole community and at the moment their governance structures aren’t, so our very strong view is that if they do not comply they should not be funded.” Of course, she has no chance of pulling this off as the sports at the top of the list are cycling, rugby union, cricket, football and athletics. Even Sue Campbell, sport governance’s very own baroness, has equivocated: “20% are already doing it, 60% are open to being coached to do it and 20% it will take a different kind of effort.”

Diaper covers Sport England embarrassment
Efforts by Sport England to make the case for their own survival should the ConDem bonfire of the quangos ever get around to bringing UK Sport and the national sports development agency together under one roof continue with figures for their Active Universities programme being trumpeted as evidence of greater sporting participation. With the failure to get anywhere close to pre-Olympic participation targets still a source of embarrassment, Jenny Price’s beleaguered organisation have hit on the idea of tapping the student market. It is in the nature of press offices under pressure to make the most of any statistic but reporting that the 46,000 university students they “have got involved in sport in the first year of Sport England’s Active Universities campaign” includes “2,341 students at Brighton University where organisers used fun sporting challenges in canteens and reception areas to get people involved” rather gives the game away. People persuaded to sit on a rowing machine on their way into lunch do not represent recruitment to regular physical activity and for Sport England’s Mike Diaper (he’s their director of community sport apparently) to claim that “it’s fantastic that so many students are taking the opportunity to make sport a regular part of their lives” is disingenuous at best.

Greater choice for Manchester coaches
Greatersport’s newly appointed coaching development officer Jane Owen is responding to demand for continuous professional development opportunities from Manchester’s coaching community with a series of specialist workshops under the new Coaching Extra brand. The evening workshops being held at the county sport partnership’s Sport City headquarters will be tutored by specialists such as Sergio Lara-Bercial of Leeds Metropolitan University and sport psychologist Paul Connolly, and are a direct response to what coaches said they wanted rather than being delivered in the one-size-fits-all approach adopted by some agencies. Owen told The Leisure Review, “We have put the courses on in the most popular area and time of the week. They are aimed at coaches of any level, in any sport who want to progress and expand their coaching knowledge in specific areas.” Details of the six workshops are posted at www.greatersport.co.uk

Seasiders host volunteer managers
Brighton-based third-sector training company McCrudden Training has linked with local football club Brighton and Hove Albion to provide paid and unpaid volunteer managers with the chance to develop their skills at the 3rd South East Regional Volunteer Managers Conference. Hosted through Albion in the Community at the nearly new Amex Stadium the 5 December conference takes “bridge building” as its theme and will consider volunteering towards employability, lone working and quality standards for voluntary organisations.

Pool camera safety finding favour
The Swimming Pool Safety Company, purveyors of the PoolView camera safety system, are reporting notable increase in sales in Scotland with operators in Aberdeen, Moray, Perthshire, Edinburgh, Dundee, Inverness and Glasgow intalling the underwater and above-water camera systems. Most notably perhaps is the Edinburgh Royal Commonwealth Pool, managed by Edinburgh Leisure, in which the company completed the installation of 48 cameras, the biggest to date in the UK, earlier this year.


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Monday 29 October
Who knew there was a new Bond film out? And it has broken the record for the opening weekend gross for any other of the 23 films in the series, although in light of the historic realities of inflation over the last 50 years this is not perhaps as surprising as some would have you believe. With a sad inevitability it seems that Defra was warned of the dangers of ash dieback in 2009 but deemed action unnecessary. The archives of Cecil Day-Lewis are to be donated to the Bodeleian in Oxford, while Bridget Riley wins the Sikkens prize, a Dutch award recognising the use of colour; Riley is the first woman to win the prize. Mumbai welcomes Starbucks, with women apparently particularly appreciative of a place they can sit alone without being hassled and the availability of a clean, functioning toilet. In Venice the controversy over moves to prevent cruise ships sailing through the Giudecca canal rages on.

Tuesday 30 October
Barclays and Coutts have threatened to end their financial support for Stonewall if the charity does not drop its bigot of the year award; Stonewall’s response has been along the lines of, off you go then. Austerity Britain take 27: Inspector Knacker is now looking at selling off New Scotland Yard to make ends meet. Take 28: the Arts Council to cut 100 jobs in a regional restructuring. Alan Bennett’s new play, to be staged at the National Theatre, is said to be taking a swipe at the National Trust. Official figures suggest that the London 2012 Festival attracted 19.8 million visitors. Of course they did. In Kent archaeologists have found the remains of a huge Anglo-Saxon hall but in LA (that’s Los Angeles, not Little ’Ampton) RZA out of Wu-Tang Clan is making a biopic of Genghis Khan. In Tehran the city’s symphony orchestra has disbanded owing to a lack of funding and in Kabul an enthusiastic crowd gathers for Afghanistan’s first professional boxing bout. In Serbia the police issue charges against two members of the England under-21 team for their role in the post-match brawl the other week.

Wednesday 31 October
Ash dieback may be joined by diseases threatening larch, willow and oak before long. ITV is said to have commissioned a celebrity diving programme, titled Splash, with Tom Daley as coach; it seems Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubank involved too many locations.  The National Portrait Gallery is to show William Orpen’s portrait of Churchill following a long-term loan by the Churchill estate; Churchill thought it was the best portrait of himself. Still shocked to learn that there’s a new Bond film? The Vatican has now given it official thumbs in its in-house newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, are in Kenya as part of an African coaching programme. Back in London, MPs hear tales of threats by Barclays and other banks to leave the UK if banking regulations were to be strengthened against their wishes. But there is some good news: Formula One teams are finding things tough financially speaking, prompting some to insist their drivers bring in their own salaries in sponsorship.


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