Written evidence from Business In Sport and Leisure Limited (OLL 12)

 

BISL represents the private sector in UK sport & leisure

 

1.BISL's submission to the Committee follows the announced Terms of reference for the Inquiry by the Culture, Media & Sport Committee, and in particular the questions - Whether the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will deliver a lasting legacy of social, physical and economic regeneration; Ways of maximising the value of the Olympic legacy both within the host boroughs, London and across the UK; The use and management of the Olympic Park and venues after 2012; Progress towards meeting targets to increase grass roots participation in sport; The aim of leaving a lasting legacy that improves cultural life; and How success in delivering lasting legacy can be measured.

 

2. OVERALL SUMMARY BISL appreciates the opportunity to give this evidence. We welcome the Committee's inquiry, given the widespread doubts in our industry about a beneficial 2012 legacy - and we hope it is not too late. Our submission concerns sporting legacy, both "soft" and "hard", but not social or economic legacy. We include here specific advice on soft legacy in particular.

 

Between now and 2012, and in the vital legacy years beyond the Games, everyone is clear that the public purse will not ride to the rescue. Achieving a decent Games legacy - one that justifies the huge national investment and effort in staging the Olympic Games in London, and which satisfies the ambitions and aims stated by the London team when they won in Singapore - demands therefore private and voluntary effort on a large scale. But, BISL and many private companies/organisations are frustrated by the difficulty in getting involved and making a contribution.

LOCOG, ODA and BOA are concentrating effort, for understandable reasons, upon running a successful event in 2012. The tangible steps taken on the vital soft legacy so far are by Sport England, in its participation strategy, by the Change4Life campaign and the Free Swimming programme - each with strong Government support and funding.

Legacy can be seen as a jigsaw, ie a number of interconnecting pieces to make up a big, clear picture. All the pieces are not yet assembled and no one is putting them together. We require coordinated and effective action by all three sectors, public, private and voluntary. To use another metaphor - the 2012 legacy machine has no clear driver and is not firing on all cylinders. Time may be running out to achieve the laudable aims set when the London bid was won, to get the right national return on the huge 2012 investment of resources and effort and to make the most of what remains a massive national opportunity for beneficial change.

 

BISL SUBMISSION

 

3. Whether the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will deliver a lasting legacy of social, physical and economic regeneration. The Committee is enquiring into a controversial topic. With 2012 getting closer, there are widespread and severe doubts about the legacy now likely to be achieved; though there is considerable confidence in the delivery of a successful Games event, which clearly is the driving priority for LOCOG, ODA and BOA.

 

4. The Committee will distinguish between types of legacy, as we do in this submission;- sporting legacy, in terms of getting more people participating in sport more often - the so called "soft legacy"; "hard legacy" - what we assume the Committee means by "physical legacy" in its terms of reference, ie new facilities for sport and the community, from the 2012 Games; social legacy - we make no comment on this; economic legacy - again, we make no comment in this submission. But, we consider that action that achieves real soft and hard legacy will deliver very real social and economic benefits to the UK.

 

5. BISL perceives three clear facts around the sporting and soft legacy debate;-

 

a) no previous Olympic Games has delivered a sporting or soft legacy, in terms of more people doing more sport as a result of hosting the Games;

b) in winning the Games in Singapore, the London team committed themselves memorably to delivering, for the first time in Olympic history, a genuine soft legacy; but, no clear targets were set, and......

c) No body or organisation has ever assumed responsibility for this task.

 

6. at this stage, BISL only sees Sport England (with Government and lottery funding) attempting to drive up participation and thus helping to achieve the original Singapore mission of soft legacy. BISL supports the Sport England strategy to increase participation by working with partners. Already there are promising partnership schemes in place between sports bodies (e.g. swimming, squash, badminton) and private operators. On behalf of the private sector, BISL is about to hold its first talks with Sport England on how private companies, operators and facilities can make a further and significant contribution to its current effort.

 

7. Up till now, we have been frustrated in our attempts to play a supporting role toward national soft legacy aims. Our members report similar frustration among many local authorities across the country. In London, City Hall and the Host Boroughs have taken significant steps in planning and starting to initiate sustainable soft legacy developments; but there is little evidence of this across the UK as a whole (and indeed BISL member companies report frequently that outside of the South East, legacy and the 2012 Games are considered irrelevant and unimportant); and until such leadership and co ordination is in place it seems unlikely that anything but a very short term sporting legacy (e.g. like the annual "Wimbledon effect" on tennis) will be delivered. There have been and are some good initiatives, by central and local Government and sport Governing Bodies but there is no co-ordination, and no central drive, around a simple coherent theme with appropriate marketing, supported by action programmes on the ground.

 

8. BISL believes there remains an important opportunity to build upon the impact so far of Change4Life, Free Swimming and the Sport England strategy - the only national actions taken since London won the 2012 bid - through coordinated and effective action involving all three sectors. Such effort will benefit hugely from association with 2012 and with the Games logos, but so far this has not been offered. We add further comment under "Progress toward grass roots participation targets" below.

 

9. Ways of maximizing the value of the Olympic legacy both within the host boroughs, London and across the UK. The use and management of the Olympic Park and venues after 2012. We assume this refers to what is called "hard legacy". Here, BISL like others can see both attention and progress, despite a mix of responsibilities. The Committee will know that responsibility for hard legacy rests in four sets of hands - ODA, who are building the facilities; the five Boroughs; OPLC, who will own the facilities after the Games; and Sport England.

 

10. It still isn't easy to secure a private sector input. BISL has pressed the LDA and now the ODA since autumn 2007 for more discussion of the use and effective management (in transition and legacy modes) of the new sports facilities within the Olympic Park. So far, all emphasis appears to be on the IOC and International Federation requirements. But many sports are unable to deliver an economically viable legacy programme in these facilities in isolation - while the proposed 2012 facilities do still offer significant opportunity for wider community and multi sport use. So, we retain concerns about the management of Olympic facilities post 2012 - while welcoming the establishment of the Olympic Park Legacy Company and also the significant steps taken by the new City Hall administration - and see an urgent need to appoint experienced operators for the 2012 sports facilities in order that future use can be built into the final legacy designs. Some ask, is the "new Wembley" story being replayed on a different basis, this time with athletics as the unsustainable centrepiece beyond the Games? The Eastlands solution in Manchester might yet would be preferable, to keep the Park buzzing and potentially produce revenues for sports development and other activity. BISL will continue to press for urgent dialogue between 2012 bodies and commercial operators with experience of successfully bringing facilities on stream and engaging the community in the use of leisure facilities. (We have a meeting pending with the Chair of the Olympic Park Legacy Company).

 

11. Progress towards meeting targets to increase grass roots participation in sport. A central plank of BISL's strategy in the last ten years has been "Growing the Market" by increasing sports participation alongside more facility provision. We regarded the Singapore success as both a major achievement, on the world stage, and a once in a lifetime opportunity to build the base of sporting participation and facilities in the UK - with lasting health, economic, sporting and community benefits, just as the London team so eloquently expressed in Singapore. The London 2012 Games can still provide the opportunity and catalyst for growing grass roots participation (although this global event, even with the excitement of hosting elite sportspeople in top class competition, will not by itself inspire a sustained increase in grassroots participation). But, as already noted, there is widespread frustration at the lack of national and coordinated drive so far. We need a more pro active approach - coordinated with providers from all sectors - to get the 2012 Games playing a key part in national efforts on obesity levels, falls in participation at age 16+ , healthy living standards, etc. The UK legacy effort requires change - in mindsets, in strategies, in programmes, in operations. Starts have been made - some are important and likely to work - but they are not yet part of a large and compelling jigsaw picture.

 

12. BISL offers these specific comments on meeting participation targets;-

 

Change is necessary - involving all sectors. We shall not grow UK participation by following the same policies and programmes we always have. The 2012 Games in London present the opportunity for major change - perhaps, we will never get a better chance;

Awareness of the benefits of taking part in sport and physical activity is not in itself sufficient motivation. Everyone, especially the young, has a range of potential leisure pursuits; changing behaviour remains a key marketing challenge. Change4Life may be an important first step; but further and more marketing effort is needed, if legacy aims are to be achieved. Commercial sport/leisure has experience and expertise in marketing (and the essential customer service approach) - and the capacity to help young people move towards the Government's 5 hour offer and to embed an active lifestyle by 16+. Can we for allocate some PE/School Sport investment into developing easier access to facilities/opportunities by young people in Year 11?

High quality information/PR on local opportunities can provide a part of the catalyst to activity. Free swimming has been well publicised and encouraged many to swim. Culture change is vital, in some sports in particular, because now people look for good customer service. Swimming sets good examples;

Major sporting events provoke spikes in participation. The "Wimbledon effect" fills tennis courts in July each year. The separation of spectator and participant is caused by logistics, crowd control, lack of space, etc, but there are exceptions, e.g. ad hoc games of cricket with mini balls/bats on match days, similar activity at rugby and soccer clubs. The Olympic Park during Games time and the planned areas with big screens round the country, offer great opportunities to make the link between watching sport and taking part. Sport development and coaching work, taster sessions, a festival approach, should encourage more sustained participation. The commercial and voluntary sectors have the expertise/experience to make such initiatives work;

Both assessment of local need and a review of the use and capacity of all current stock (including not only community and local authority facilities, but also those of the educational, private and voluntary sectors) must be part of a local authority's strategic plan under PPG17 (currently under review);

Given expenditure restraints, and economic forecasts, significant new publicly funded community sports facility provision is unlikely in the next 2 - 4 years. Yet securing soft legacy, across the UK, will require facilities and opportunities which need planning and funding. The options are - opening up publicly owned facilities, e.g. in education, now inaccessible to the community; exploiting the resources and skills of the private sector (inc. finding innovative ways of developing new public facilities and opportunities for activity); getting more community use out of corporate facilities; and better use of the Building Schools for the Future programme. The opportunity for effective, professional satellite management of public facilities for local use by sports clubs, commercial expertise, physical/cultural organisations needs exploring;

The UK has an ageing stock of poor quality, energy inefficient, often poorly located, community facilities. The multi sport hub is a replacement option, bringing partner capital and sustainable cross subsidy. Sport Action Zones (e.g. in N Lambeth, Southwark, Manchester) are starting to make a difference to participation levels in socially excluded areas. Their focus is on intervention and testing new forms of public, private and voluntary partnership - the development of community sport rather than building new facilities. The lesson is that localised, small-scale intervention can work;

Innovative use of any open space (e.g. the success of estate-based work, the countryside, waterways, green space and parkland) can play a key role in providing places to get active and "play" sport. The challenge is to make these informal environments safe and to develop strategies to encourage and manage such spaces;

Employers are already making flexible working a reality - and this is important in allowing employees time to build activity into their lives. Legacy with an Olympic brand can stimulate more employer engagement.

 

13. The aim of leaving a lasting legacy that improves cultural life. BISL believes that the legacy opportunity was the key element that won hearts and minds to the London Olympic bid - both here and overseas. We believe the right legacy must be directed toward improving cultural life - but also the nation's health, its community spirit, its overall sense of well being. These are big goals and ideals. They are achievable, via a global and "once in a lifetime" event like an Olympic Games. So, we have the opportunity; it will not come round again, or, is unlikely to; but we need a national and regional and local effort, across sectors, which is not yet in place.

 

14. As an example, to secure this coordinated drive for 2012 legacy BISL recommends, could a special group be set up quickly, with the right remit and powers? - a project group of 12 or so people, to deliver recommendations by a set date; to be succeeded by a delivery group, to have systems/structure in place by early 2012. The members of such a group might come from or "represent" organisations handpicked for their suitability, like Sport England, some sports governing bodies, Local Authorities, Private Sector, and CCPR. There would be little difficulty in running such a group at low cost, as we believe members would readily volunteer.

 

15. How success in delivering lasting legacy can be measured. BISL suggests the following answers;- a) more and better facilities - in the right places. Great strides have been made in the past decade to create for the first time an audit of indoor and outdoor sports facilities - a key contributor to soft legacy. This "Active Places" was developed by the Leisure Database Company with support from DCMS and Sport England. The number, type and age of sports facilities is now available to the general public, sports clubs and bodies via Sport England's Active Places website. It can now be used to create complex models, whether of mass participation events or the behaviour of individuals, so latent demand can be anticipated across individual sports, matched against existing capacity (and where actual participation numbers can be counted).

 

b) More people participating in sport & leisure, more often. The fitness industry has already taken advantage of an existing supply demand model to monitor and estimate participation. Fitness participation rates have doubled to 12% of the population. Some participation data is collected and freely available but not collated or analysed. We see importance in Sport England's Active People Survey, with some reservations about how this can measure activity changes in some sports and we support Sport England's efforts to secure corroborative data to enhance the Active People findings.

 

c) Satisfaction surveys. Such surveys can tell us how effective programmes are and enable policy and programme makers to adapt where appropriate, because motivation will ever be vital to securing long term behavioural change.

 

16. Business In Sport and Leisure (BISL) is an umbrella organisation for over 80 companies/organisations in the private sector sport and leisure industry. Members of BISL listed on the London Stock Exchange and in private equity ownership have a combined market capitalisation in excess of 30bn. The membership includes commercial contractors (e.g. operating local government public sport and leisure facilities), private health club operators, major sports governing bodies (including British Swimming, the Lawn Tennis Association, the Rugby Football Union), key consultancies (e.g. Deloittes, Price Waterhouse Cooper, PMP, Capita), legal and accounting companies and academic institutions.

 

January 2010