The Scrutiny Support Officer presented a report to outline the purpose of the meeting which was to discuss the information previously received in relation to leisure provision in Middlesbrough and identify the topic area the Panel wished to scrutinise. In addition, Members were requested to agree a timescale for considering future topics, including those in respect of the Panels statutory duties.
Playing Pitches/Leisure Provision
The Panel was informed that Central Services would be undertaking a review in relation to the development of Prissick and the impact of a new facility on other sport and leisure venues across the town. Playing Pitch provision would be included within the Central Services review and the proposal to appoint a Consultant to undertake a separate review had now been abandoned. The timescale for the Review was not yet known and it was highlighted that the Panel would want to be involved at an early stage in order to make any concerns known.
In response to a query raised at the last meeting, the Panel was informed that the final cost of the KKP feasibility study into the possibility of building an iconic sports village at the Prissick Base was £28k and the report had now been delivered. The capital costs for Prissick would be in the region of £18.9 million in the opinion of the Consultant. In order to be self-financing, in the Consultant's opinion, the recommended Prissick Sports Village would need to raise £1.5 million income which approximated to 0.5 million visits annually.
Members had previously proposed a site visit to playing fields located at Devils Bridge/Sandy Flatts. It was confirmed that the fields were owned by the Hustler Trust, of which the Council was a lead partner. Members had voiced concern that parts of the fields were being fenced off and access to the public denied and it was unclear who owned various sections of the land.
Panel Members received an update on the Municipal Golf Centre. The Centre was currently performing in line with the budget set by the Council. The Council subsidy for the current financial year was £60,000. It was highlighted that the subsidy might have been reduced had it not been for the very wet weather during the course of the year, which had reduced income potential.
The golf course was in excellent condition due to the very successful trenching work carried out by staff. New trees, greens and landscaping had been introduced by the Course Manager, making a top class facility. Due to poor drainage in the past, the course had been closed for approximately sixty days per year. This had now reduced to around five days a year, excluding snow cover. Now the course usually only closed when there was exceptional rain. Many golfers who had previously left the Municipal Centre were now re-joining the club. The course fees and memberships were more affordable and accessible than other local private clubs and the facilities were just as good, if not better. Offers such as 15 months membership for the price of 12 months, continued to drive up the membership numbers. It was noted that the Clubs youth members had had their most successful year ever, winning the Yorkshire Junior Open. Arising from his involvement with the on-site Consultative Committee and feedback he had received from golf club officials, Councillor Lowes confirmed that the course was in excellent condition.
Sport and Leisure Provision and Public Health
The Sport and Leisure Operations Manager provided an overview of some of the sport and leisure activities and programmes offered by Middlesbrough Council in order to promote improvements in public health.
Over 1500 children aged 3 to 11 took part in swimming lessons every week. There were also adventure play sessions for children aged 0-5 and families were encouraged to swim together through the offer of a family ticket. A range of other family-orientated sports were available including roller skating, table tennis, badminton, squash and cycling, as well as skate-boarding and scootering at the Plaza at Prissick. Fitness classes and the gym facilities were available to people from aged 13 onwards.
In addition there were holiday sports camps for children that incorporated a whole day of sport and also provided pathways into local clubs.
It was acknowledged that there was a lot of work to do engaging more families and children in the future because of the health inequalities in Middlesbrough. Children were now more inactive than they had ever been.
The Health Through Activity Programme was mentioned covering GP referral, Stroke Rehabilitation, Active for Life and The New Life New You Programme, which focussed on people at risk of becoming diabetic, and on diet as well as fitness.
In order to promote the activities and programmes available, the Council used mailshots, websites, social media and advertised in a local newspaper, shops, supermarkets and through Doctors surgeries. Council staff also worked in schools delivering PE sessions and After School Programmes with the aim of educating children about the benefits of being active and also to promote activities available across the Council's leisure services.
With regard to older people there was a range of specific activities for Over 60s. There was an Active for Life Programme which provided lower intensity activities at a realistic price. The Programme also provided social interaction as participants would have a tea or coffee together after the activity. There was a Senior Membership for Over 60s which could be paid for monthly.
It was recognised that cost could be a barrier in Middlesbrough and in order to engage people it was important to make activities affordable. The service was currently offering a family swimming session on a Saturday for £4.00. The Council also ran a series of walks that people could join which were free of charge.
AGREED as follows:
1. the information provided at the meeting be received and noted.
2. that future scrutiny topics be considered by the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel as follows:
· Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) - update - March 2013.
· Domestic Violence - budget provision - March 2013.
· Safer Middlesbrough Partnership (SMP) - scrutinise strategy - April 2013.
· Coroners Office - update on delivery of actions - June 2013.
· Prissick/Playing Pitch Strategy - date to be confirmed.
3. a proposed site visit to the playing fields at Devils Bridge/Sandy Flatts was deferred until further information in relation to the review of leisure by Central Services was received.
4. the issue of public access to playing fields and green spaces in Middlesbrough would be considered at the next meeting of the Panel.