Edition number 82; dateline 9 May 2014

CHD drop prompts claims and explanations
A remarkable drop in the number of people in England dying from stroke and coronary heart disease (CHD) can be ascribed to a reduction in the consumption of salt, according to research published in the BMJ Open. Between 2003 and 2011 stroke fatalities dropped by 42% and CHD deaths by 40%. During the same period the average daily consumption of salt dropped by 15%. The researchers conclude that this decline in salt intake is an “all important contributor” to declining blood pressure and while they acknowledge that other risk factors declined during the period, including smoking and cholesterol levels, they maintain that reduced salt intake has been a crucial factor. Salt intake has fallen from 9.5g a day to 8.1g during the study period, a drop that has been ascribed to the efforts of the Food Standards Agency to persuade food producers to reduce the salt content of their products. Health commentators have noted that the researchers have links to the lobby group committed to highlighting the dangers of salt in food and that the study admits that the falls in fatalities from stroke and CHD exceed what might be expected from the salt reduction achieved. Some have argued that the fall in smoking, along with improvements in surgical and pharmacological interventions, will have had a more significant impact than salt reduction but all agree that the reduction in fatalities is remarkable and very positive.
• The study, titled Salt Reduction in England from 2003 to 2011: Its Relationship to Blood Pressure, Stroke and Ischaemic Heart Disease Mortality, can be found online at bmjopen.bmj.com

Inequality impact illustrated by Glasgow life expectancy
With the Commonwealth Games about to put Scotland in the sporting spotlight, a report published by the Office for National Statistics shows that Glasgow has the worst life expectancy rates in Britain. The report examines the life expectancy of children born in the period 2010 to 2012 and calculates that those born in Glasgow have a life expectancy between eight and ten years below the best life expectancies in the UK. Only 75% of boys and 85% of girls born in the city are expected to reach their 65th birthday.
• Life Expectancy for Administrative Areas within Scotland 2010-2012 is available online via www.statistics.gov.uk

Kew staff to be trimmed
The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew are about to lose 125 posts, which equates to one sixth of its staff, in response to a £5 million shortfall in its budget. The Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) has contributed to this financial hole by cutting its funding for Kew by £1.5 million, a decision that was contrary to advice received from consultants appointed by Defra. Further cuts, the department was warned, would threaten Kew’s status as a world-class research centre and a reputation as an essential resource in the study of biodiversity, climate change, crop research and conservation.

Landowners offer reward
A coalition of Scottish landowners and ornithologists has been formed to offer a reward of £26,000 for information leading to the conviction of anyone responsible for the poisoning of protected birds of prey. In recent months 19 birds have been killed, including five buzzards and 14 red kites, and police have confirmed that 12 of the birds were poisoned.

Grant helps Dylan Thomas Centre
The Heritage Lottery Fund is making a grant of £1 million to the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea, which is thought to hold the largest collection of material related to the poet’s life and work anywhere in the world. The grant will enable the centre to present an enlarged exhibition in time for Thomas’s birthday in October, including material that has until now been kept in storage. Among those celebrating the HLF grant is President Jimmy Carter, who counts himself as one of Thomas’s biggest fans.

A new zoo for Paris
Parisians are celebrating the reopening of their zoo, now to be known as the Parc Zoologique de Paris, which has been closed for six years while a €133 million renovation was completed. The site covers 14.5 hectares and has been designed to group the animals by region rather than type. Where feasible the 180 species are enabled to cohabit, although  the lion is being kept to himself just in case.

NAM reveals expansion plans
The National Army Museum in London had unveiled its plans for a significant expansion of its galleries to “speak to modern audiences” and “the modern makeup of London”. The project will include an additional five galleries to house the collection and work to make the building more accessible. Costs have been set at £23.5 million, half of which will be lottery funding. The remaining funding will come from donations.

Drop in violence but cause uncertain
A study by Cardiff University’s violence and society research group has highlighted a decline in binge drinking and the rising price of alcohol as potential factors in a 12% decline in the incidence of serious violence across England and Wales. The study shows that there has been a fall in the number of incidents of serious violence is every year but one since 2001. Professor Jonathan Shepherd, director of the research group, agreed that the reasons for a fall in violence, also seen in a number of other western countries, were unknown but changes in alcohol consumption were probably part of the picture. Binge drinking has dropped, the proportion of young people who do not drink has risen and disposable income, particularly among those aged 18 to 30, has fallen; all these factors may be contributory factors.
• Details of the Cardiff University violence and society research group study can be found online via www.cardiff.ac.uk

News in brief: a reduction

Tara Dillon has been partially seconded from her role as head of IQL UK to serve as chief operating officer of CIMSPA. She will lead a transitional management team for nine months, working two days a week a CIMSPA and the remaining three days a week at IQL UK. Martin Symcox will be acting Head of IQL UK full-time for the term of the nine-month CIMSPA secondment. The Sport and Recreation Association has called on government “to act quickly on some of the extra measures sport needs to protect itself” in response to further arrests in connection with allegations of spot-fixing in football. Tonbridge Pool has reopened after flood damage compelled the facility to be closed for three months. GLL has launched new software, CoursePro devised by Cap2 Solutions, to assist the management of lessons and courses across its 115 centres. GLL has also launched the Tom Daley Diving Academy, which will be based at the London Aquatics Centre. Sporta, the representative body for leisure and cultural trusts in the UK, has launched a new report titled SportaPurple designed to share the work of its members and assist the navigation of information relating to public health. The High Line, New York’s most recent and most innovative public open space, will be opening its final section, the Rail Yards, later this year. FitPro has appointed Kevin Laferriere to the post of chief executive officer; Kevin will be based in FitPro’s North American offices in Denver, Colorado.


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NICK REEVES REMEMBERED: CIWEM has named its arts and environment award after the late Nick Reeves, who served as executive director of the institution, artist (see above) and stalwart of the Leisure Review until his sudden and untimely death in July 2013. Full details of the award, now named the Nick Reeves Award for Arts and the Environment, can be found via the CIWEM website at www.ciwem.org.

THE VALUE OF CULTURAL COMMISSIONING: Seminars exploring the value of cultural commissioning to public services will be held in London on 6 June and in Doncaster on 10 June. Hosted by Arts Development UK,, the Cultural Commissioning Programme and the National Culture and Leisure Forum, both events will explore ways in which arts and culture can deliver effective public service outcomes. Full details are available via the ADuk website at artsdevelopmentuk.org

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