To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure presenting the City Council’s Sport and Activity Strategy 2023-2028.
134.1 The Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Andrew Lewis, introduced the report. He explained that the development of a Sport and Physical Activity Strategy was one of a number of actions raising from the options appraisal conducted by the Sport, Leisure and Culture Consultancy (SLC) back in 2022. Councillor Lewis further advised that Active Gloucestershire had been commissioned to help devise the strategy, which identified 4 priorities including achieving health and wellbeing outcomes, reducing inactivity, and increasing participation, delivering a positive customer experience, and working with local clubs, groups and the third sector.
134.2 Councillor Lewis informed Members that the Strategy included a set of 18 Key Performance Indicators to help monitor progress. He noted that the document was in draft form and that any suggestions for improvement from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee would be welcome.
134.3 In response to a request for clarification from the Chair as to what was meant by ‘physical literacy’, the Head of Culture explained that the KPIs set out in the draft strategy were based on Sport England guidance and that ‘physical literacy’ was a term used by Sport England to measure competency, enjoyment and confidence amongst young people undertaking physical activity.
134.4 The Chair referred to proposals for a Blackbridge Community Sports facility and noted that the proposal was for the facility to be run by a charitable trust rather than the City Council. He asked whether the Cabinet Member had received any updates on the position of GL1 Leisure facility. Councillor Lewis noted that he did not have any particular comments on GL1 but expressed the view that the Blackbridge proposals were good and that it was his hope that the facility would fit in well with the local community.
134.5 Councillor Hilton referred to the narrative at 3.2.3 in the report stating that a series of interviews had been undertaken with 12 Gloucester organisations during the development of the strategy. He noted that it would be useful for the list of these organisations to be shared with Overview and Scrutiny Committee Members. The Head of Culture explained that some of these organisations included the Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board (ICB) and local sports clubs. It was agreed that the full list of organisations would be shared with Overview and Scrutiny Committee Members in due course.
134.6 Councillor Hilton raised concerns that the strategy did not refer to elite athletes and how the City Council proposed to support talented young people who were progressing in their sport. He also noted that he felt more consideration needed to be given to swimming provision for young people. Councillor Lewis noted that elite athletes tended to be supported through their sporting bodies and associations, expressing the view that those organisations were best placed to provide specialist support. Councillor Lewis confirmed that the document was an aspirational and overarching strategy for the general public and welcomed suggestions from Members.
134.7 Councillor Hilton commented that in his view the strategy should deliver for both the general public and talented sportspeople and stated that it was important that aspiring athletes were not challenged by poor facilities. The Head of Culture explained that tackling health inequalities had been a key theme within the feedback from organisations and the strategy was aimed at targeting city-wide challenges rather than elite sport.
134.8 Councillor Sawyer queried whether the strategy was the first draft of the document. Councillor Lewis confirmed that it was.
134.9 In response to a further query from Councillor Sawyer, Councillor Lewis confirmed that the City Council had previously recognised that a Sports and Physical Strategy was needed which was why it had commissioned Active Gloucestershire to develop the strategy.
134.10 Councillor Sawyer noted that Gloucester had many green open spaces to for residents to make use of when undertaking physical activity. She noted that although the Glevum Way route was an asset for Gloucester, it was overgrown in some areas, and she was aware of some anti-social behaviour concerns. Councillor Lewis stated that he was not aware of specific plans to address any overgrowth on the Glevum Way route and suggested that Councillor Sawyer refer the matter to Here to Help for the relevant Officers to investigate.
134.11 In response to an additional query from Councillor Sawyer as to whether there was any possibility of linking some of Gloucester’s green spaces, Councillor Lewis confirmed that she was welcome to send him her ideas.
134.12 In response to a question from Councillor Castle regarding indoor facilities, Councillor Lewis noted that funding was a challenge and that the City Council was focusing on improving the facilities it had. He reiterated that suggestions from Members were always welcome.
134.13 Councillor Castle raised concerns about the condition of the trail between Plock Court and the University of Gloucestershire Oxstalls Campus. It was agreed that enquiries would be made to ascertain which organisation was responsible for maintaining the track and Councillor Lewis agreed that he was happy to raise the matter during his monthly meetings.
134.14 Councillor Trimnell commented that lots of work had clearly been put into the strategy and noted that she liked the vision. She commended the inclusion of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and asked for further information as to how this data would be fed back. Councillor Lewis confirmed that this data would be collected annually as there would be lots of information to collate.
134.15 Councillor Trimnell noted that the Council’s landlord responsibilities for GL1 Leisure Centre were due to come to an end and asked for further information as to next steps for the Centre. Councillor Lewis confirmed that there would be a tender process with an opportunity for companies to bid.
134.16 Councillor Sawyer noted that football pitches appeared to be the default open space offering from developers and queried whether consideration could be given to discussing alternative open space options with developers, such as nature reserves. Councillor Lewis agreed that informal play and outdoor space for physical activity were important and that he would be keen to ensure that equipment such as picnic tables were available in local open spaces. He expressed the view that the City Council needed to steer away from being too prescriptive.
134.17 In response to further comments from Councillor Sawyer regarding how open space areas could be maximised for the benefit of the public, Councillor Lewis invited her to write to him with further details about her ideas.
RESOLVED – That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee NOTE the report.