Strategic leadership needed on public health

 At our recent health and well-being round table the key message coming through was that sport and physical activity professionals must show leadership at a strategic level to meet the challenges of the public health agenda.

The roundtable, facilitated by cCLOA and hosted by the Local Government Association, drew upon expertise from organisations including CIMSPA, the County Sports Partnership Network, the Department of Health and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

There has never been a more opportune time to maximise the value and contribution that the culture and sport sector can make to creating healthier, stronger and happier communities. And in view of the contribution that the sport and physical activity sector can make to stemming the tide of escalating health care costs, cCLOA is now seeking to facilitate a more unified approach amongst councils, culture, sport and leisure providers, the third sector and health partners.

The roundtable discussions clearly demonstrated that we have to be proactive in our position with health and well-being boards and local commissioners – and to be successful in this we need to focus on local need, provide good data on impact, improve our knowledge base and exhibit leadership at a strategic level.

The sport and physical activity sector has an opportunity to make a difference to our health; through everyday activity, helping influence lifestyle and inspiring a generation through sport.  But we need to be creative, utilise non-traditional methods and understand who our customers are and what they want.

We all recognise that sport and physical activity has a significant role to play in preventing avoidable illness and tackling obesity, but across the country the implementation and success of long-term interventions has been patchy. Public health needs to be part of the DNA of the industry and people in the sector need to win the hearts and minds of health professionals.

The roundtable has been invaluable in setting the scene for cCLOA’s guidance and support across health and well-being. We have also forged the opportunity for a single message that all sector organisations can buy into – so let’s get on with it.

Richard Hunt – Chair, Chief Cultural and Leisure Officers Association

The Future of National Trails

The 15 National Trails of England are one of its greatest assets offering the public an opportunity to walk, cycle and ride through many beautiful and historic parts of the country. They have all been created by linking existing local footpaths, bridleways and minor roads and by developing new ones where there were gaps.

Their management and high quality is undoubtedly the key to their success, however this shift by Government in response to localism and community driven projects will offer a new challenge to local government.

The Government proposes a New Deal however there is little evidence in the consultation that informs Authorities how this will work. As with many things in life, the devil is in the detail. The consultation proposes the establishment of a ‘Trail Partnership’ for each Trail; a single body that will manage and oversee the quality of provision as well as hand down the finance to local authorities.

There are claims that greater transparency and transactional efficiencies will be achieved with the move toward Trail Partnerships, but is this just a cost cutting exercise that will undermine the strategic role that Natural England and its predecessors have usefully fulfilled over the decades? Will there be any benefit to the users from this sea change?

On the face of it the Trail Partnerships will replace the role of Natural England and will become a self-fulfilling prophecy meeting the needs of users. From the perspective of a highway authority there is the risk that it will require greater input to achieve a similar end, particularly in the early life of the Trail Partnerships.

With local government facing cuts it is difficult to imagine that we will be in a position to meet the aspirations of users and perhaps those of a newly formed public body.  However local government is resilient and capable of change and perhaps these new proposals from Central Government will form the basis of a new way of working with the community and achieving beneficial results. We watch with interest.

Martin Malloy – Strategic Director, Cultural and Community Services – Derbyshire County Council & cCLOA Executive Member