Support for Community Sport – 2nd paper

The Scottish Parliament

In July 2012 the Health and Sport Committee launched its Inquiry into Support for Community Sport. The Inquiry follows an Inquiry into Pathways into Sport undertaken by the Committee in 2009.My response to the Health and Sport Committee’s  Convenor’s  encouragement and invitation to submit further written evidence as the Committee’s Inquiry progresses.

 After the Meeting of the Health and Sport Committee meeting on 4 September – the first session held to hear oral evidence

1. SPICe Information Briefing Paper

Whilst recognising the complexity of summarising the breadth of activities, policies and practices of Community sport in Scotland – I take the view that this paper gives me a very centralist image of community sport in Scotland.

Whilst I am happy to expand on this when I am called to give written evidence on 2 October – the practice of community sport is largely determined at local level. Most community sport has no involvement of sportscotland, and usually with no external funds from levels of government to support the clubs.

I also draw attention of the Committee to the Perth and Kinross Health and Wellbeing Partnership excellent Strategic Framework for Sport and Active Recreation. Amongst other things the Framework gives a very helpful set of Definitions for Sport and Physical Activity – and puts these against a backdrop of the various age stages. I believe it is important to agree the terminology about sport before getting misunderstandings about concepts.

Community Sport should also be about all life stages.

2. Participation measurement

I have referred at some length in my original submission to the current practices of using a Household Survey to record participation. I would add that as the Survey asks about participation over a four-week period, the results of the survey are unlikely to be of any importance either to a Physical Activity and Health Strategy, or to any meaningful Sports Strategy.

Scotland should join with other European countries to develop a more meaningful system, and assist strategic development.

3. Costs of Participation

It is very clear to me that one of the real barriers to participation in community club sport, is the cost of hiring facilities. The Annual Research Digest published by sportscotland, is a helpful guide on the charges being asked. But a major weakness is that many charges for school premises, and charges being made to clubs are not shown with enough clarity. It is important to recognise that sports clubs will often wish to hire facilities at least three times a week for each cohort of members.

Over and above this there will be costs associated with each sport, coaching, transport, equipment and competition entry fees.

Perhaps the Committee could request more information on actual costs from a number of community sports clubs – particularly those not in receipt of grant aid?

4. Budgets

Perhaps the Committee could take sometime to consider the whole area of spend on Sport.

Elite and Performance Sport which has been in receipt of revenue and capital funding from the Lottery, from UK Sport, from sportcotland and from sports governing bodies, and to a lesser extent from local authorities.

Active Recreation –is a big focus of spend by local authorities

Physical Activity – being very much about daily living – has its budget spends from a very wide range of partners

The participants themselves, by contrast, largely fund community Sport.

5. Local Authorities

As many observed at the meeting on 4 September, the leadership and involvement of local authorities is critical to Community Sport. Local authorities own most of the sports facilities. Through the local Planning Partnerships Sports Strategies and Visions need to developed, which take account of all aspects of community sport. Continuous commitment by authorities to enable and empower constituted community sports groups should be provided locally.

All PPP /PFI contracts should be reviewed on the basis 24/7 use of expensive facilities. Smaller facilities can also be made available to sports clubs with a mix or written and approved agreements, and modern key holder technology that enables clubs to take responsibility of the buildings when in their own care.

Commercial sports operations can also be encouraged to use local facilities, where opportunities arise  – but costs should reflect the commercial nature of the activity.

6. Transparency of Governance of Sport

All sport should strive to uphold the highest principles and practices of transparency of governance and democracy. Challenges include the need to ensure that all have a voice, that financial accounts are clear and unambiguous.

My own impression is that there is much work to be done to improve current practices.

Further reading:

The Health and Sport Committee website can be found here:

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