Report of The Cabinet Member for Leisure.
Purpose of the report
To provide Cabinet with an opportunity to formally adopt a Sport and Physical Activity Strategy for South Kesteven District Council, which set out the Council’s vision, mission, aims and objectives for increasing rates of physical activity over the next five years.
That Cabinet approves the adoption of the Sport and Physical Activity Strategy as the Council’s strategic document to underpin the Corporate Plan 2020-2023 priority of Healthy and Strong Communities.
Options considered and rejected
Not to implement a Sport and Physical Activity Strategy.
Reasons for decision
On 22 June 2021 the Culture and Visitor Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee considered an update on the development of the Sport and Physical Activity Strategy. It was proposed that the Strategy would focus on providing opportunities for residents to be more active and identify a broad range of opportunities to incorporate sport and physical activity into everyday life.
In further developing the Strategy it was recognised that the Council alone could not deliver its corporate ambition to build healthy and strong communities. To maximise the opportunities for residents to increase their physical activity levels and adopt a healthy lifestyle, importance was placed on the Strategy reflecting the collective ambitions and views of partner organisations and key stakeholders.
Alongside the work of the Sport and Physical Activity Strategy, it was reported that the Council had committed to the Mental Health Challenge for Local Authorities and had acknowledged the role it needed to play in improving the mental wellbeing for everyone in the community. Initial conversations had taken place with the National Health Service, the Neighbourhoods Team and social prescribers and further work would take place to look into delivering a whole systems approach and develop integrated care systems. Discussions had also taken place with Active Lincolnshire, the county’s Active Partnership, to consider how the Strategy aligned with the county-wide agenda and to update their local club and activity finder. Alignment with Sport England’s ‘Uniting the Movement’ campaign had also been considered.
A copy of the Sport and Physical Activity Strategy was appended to the report.
Councillor Annie Mason, Cabinet Member for People and Safer Communities, commended the well written Strategy which covered all the necessary areas, linked well into the Mental Health Challenge and included a very clear action plan. The report also included one of the best Equality Impact Assessments she had read and took this opportunity to thank Emma Sharpe, Leisure and Events Officer, for an excellent piece of work.
Councillor Kelham Cooke, Leader of the Council, added his thanks to the team for the work they had undertaken on the development of the Strategy and said that this was important for the Authority, not just for residents but also the district’s local NHS services. Access to sport and physical activities was crucial, acknowledging that everyone currently lived in times of stress and anxiety. It was important to emphasise the improvements to mental health that fresh air and exercise could make, with the nature of South Kesteven providing great opportunities for people to enjoy their communities and make the most out of what was locally available to them. The Strategy would also help address risks regarding obesity and diabetes and provided a platform to continue to work with other stakeholders locally and nationally.
Councillor Robert Reid, Cabinet Member for Housing and Property, highlighted that this was a good example of the Council delivering initiatives that were not statutory responsibilities and that the Authority would strive to continue to provide services such as these alongside its statutory functions in line with a balanced budget.
Councillor Cooke agreed, adding that as a District Council the authority had a huge lever of influence in South Kesteven’s communities and elected Members should be an active part of this Strategy, acting as enablers in the areas they represented.
It was noted that 46% of children in the district were classed as being physically inactive which would contribute significantly to the longer term health issues, particularly in relation to obesity and mental health. Something therefore needed to be done to get young people more active. Tree planted work being done in the district together with aspirations for Jubilee Park were welcomed but there was lots more to do in order to address this issue, with the role of the Council’s Planning Committee being key. Aspects such as cycle routes and play areas needed to be promoted more as part of the consideration of planning applications and development.
A question was asked as to how Cabinet intended to work with public sector partners, private sector partners and the voluntary sector in delivering the aspirations of the Strategy. Councillor Dobson, Cabinet Member for Leisure, provided an assurance that the Council would engage with representatives from those sectors and that approval of the Strategy was the early stages of this initiative. He was confident that its implementation could progress very quickly, acknowledging that the Council could not undertake this on its own.
Councillor Cooke highlighted that there was a huge amount that LeisureSK Ltd could do to support this Strategy, but reiterated that individual elected Members in their own wards also had the ability to take the lead and deliver initiatives. He cited the Connect Stamford scheme which encouraged walking around the green areas circling Stamford, working in partnership with the County Council, local businesses and landowners. Other supportive initiatives already occurring in the district were the introduction of free outdoor gyms, investment in the Council’s parks and access to the Community Grant Fund. There were lots that could be done and it was important to note that the four market towns in South Kesteven were all very different, so a single approach would not necessarily work meaning that locally led initiatives by local Members as community leaders would add significant value.
Councillor Mason, referring to the Action Plan, reported that the Mental Health Working Party would be able to help in respect of a number of areas included within it. She agreed that more needed to be done to promote walking and cycling, particularly in response to the Council’s declaration of a climate emergency. Referring to the green tourism agenda, Councillor Mason suggested that this was something the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee could potentially take the lead on.