Written evidence from the Local Government Association (OLL 23)

 

1 Introduction

 

1.1 The Local Government Association (LGA) represents over 400 councils in England and Wales. We work with and for our member authorities to realise a shared vision of local government that enables local people to shape a distinctive and better future for their locality and its communities.

 

1.2 The LGA Group runs a special programme of work to enthuse and support local authorities to help spread the benefits from the 2012 Games across the whole country. We are working with 90% of councils on this agenda. Our submission focuses on the aspects of the Inquiry that fall within our remit, namely grass roots participation in sport, a cultural legacy and measuring legacy.

 

1.3 The LGA submission does not comment on London or the Olympic Park because this is not within our remit. The LGA submission focuses on three of the Inquiry's questions but we would also like to record that we are working closely with councils the 2012 venues outside London to maximise a lasting legacy of social, physical and economic regeneration for the whole country and use of venues after 2012.

 

2 Key Messages

 

We need a sports legacy plan that understands the delivery landscape and focuses more on the local because this is where the majority of resources and activity are;

We would like greater clarity about how the Cultural Olympiad will be a truly UK-wide celebration of culture that fully encompasses thriving local activity and not just national and regional showcase projects;

There are existing mechanisms to measure legacy and we would strongly oppose any attempt to increase the performance management burdens councils are already under.

 

3 Progress towards meeting targets to increase grass roots participation in sport

 

3.1 Councils, along with local clubs, are the principal deliverers of sport in England, and have a strong track record of delivering quality local sporting offers. Councils invest 1.5 billion per year in sport (including capital spend), which is by far the largest public contribution to sport from any one sector. It is in council-owned pools, parks and gyms that enthusiastic amateurs and future sporting stars alike can first encounter the thrill of sporting success.

 

3.2 Indeed the government's own research shows that if councils and their partners meet their LAA targets they will have increased participation in sport by 950,000 and increased the numbers of the physically active by 350,000 - putting us well on the way to achieving government's flagship sports legacy target of 2 million people more active by 2012/13.

 

3.3 But our job is not just to provide the infrastructure and environment in which sport and activity thrive. It is also to work together locally to unlock the passion and enthusiasm that can inspire people to change the habits of a lifetime - critical when thinking about a sporting legacy from the Games. And as place-shapers, councillors are able to use sport to help build healthier, stronger, safer and more prosperous communities far beyond 2012 to encompass a whole decade of sport.

 

3.4 It follows then that government, non-departmental public bodies and National Governing Bodies (NGBs) will not deliver increased grass roots participation on the back of the 2012 Games. If we are to give ourselves the best possible chance of achieving this, we need a sports legacy plan that recognises the strategic leadership and delivery role of local councils and sports clubs to make good the legacy promises the London 2012 Bid Team made in Singapore in 2005.

 

3.5 We are encouraged that the government is re-thinking the legacy landscape. We would like to see more focus on local activity and a more appropriate balance with national projects, such as free swimming. The new sporting landscape is starting to realise the potential for closer working with NGBs to unlock and build new capacity into existing community facilities and club structures, but it is patchy and some NGBs simply lack the capacity to engage with their County Sport and Physical Activity Partnerships and through them local councils.

 

3.6 The answer to the question of how we can best use the Games to encourage people to be more active must be much deeper than national programmes and national legacy boards to co-ordinate legacy. The day-to-day reality of delivering a thriving sporting offer is councils' bread and butter. We think government could be making more use of us in meeting our shared sporting legacy ambitions and what councils are already proactively doing.

 

3.7 The LGA Group is currently working on a 2012 Sports Legacy Plan for Local Government which will set out why councils and their local partners are best placed to use the Games to encourage people to be more active, what practical steps councils can take to do this and what we think government and other partners need to do to support councils. We would welcome the opportunity to share our thinking with the Committee.

 

3.8 Please find attached as Appendix 1 a summary of councils' role in relation to a sporting legacy and a snapshot of case studies.

 

4 Leaving a lasting legacy that improves cultural life

 

4.1 Councils are already getting on with using the 2012 Games to boost local cultural participation in accordance with what local people want. From Shropshire's "Museum on the Move" to Kent and Portsmouth's 2012-inspired Charles Dickens collaboration and Bradford's carnival of culture, there are examples like these from across the country.

 

4.2 This reflects the fact that local authorities are the principal delivery body for publicly funded culture outside central London. They invest more in DCMS services than the department and its quangos - 2.2 billion in 2007-08 against 1.3 billion by the government. They own and run public libraries and almost all of the principal museums and art galleries in England outside London. They are at the forefront of using culture to engage and inspire people, especially those at the margins of society, and as a route back into training or employment. And councils make the links with other services, such as health and police, that can lead to real innovation and cost savings.

 

4.3 We do not need more central prescription or national plans but we would like clarification about how the Cultural Olympiad will be a truly UK-wide celebration of culture that fully encompasses thriving local activity and does not just showcase high-profile national and regional projects. Although the Cultural Olympiad is the responsibility of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), government cites the Olympiad as the main vehicle for encouraging increased cultural participation on the back of the Games, and culture is also a key workstream of the Government Olympic Executive's Social Legacy Board.

 

4.4 The Cultural Olympiad has the potential to be a powerful catalyst for a lasting cultural legacy across the whole country but thus far it has focused too much on big regional and national projects. Local cultural projects can only be a part of the Cultural Olympiad via the Open Weekend, an annual celebration marking the countdown to 2012, or by applying for the Inspire Mark, giving local projects access to London 2012 collateral. The future of the Regional Creative Programmers is also far from clear. This alone will not deliver the stated aim of UK-wide participation and we think there is scope to be much clearer about how local cultural activity can relate to the Cultural Olympiad up to and beyond 2012.

 

5 How success in delivering lasting legacy can be measured

 

5.1 The LGA believes that it should be up to local areas to determine how they track and measure local legacy and will strongly resist any attempt to increase the performance monitoring burdens councils are already under.

 

5.2 The Smarter Government White Paper sets out the government's aim to simplify performance management from the centre, and to reduce reporting, inspection and assessment burdens on local areas. Discussions about measuring lasting legacy need to be taken forward in this context.

 

 

Appendix 1 - Summary of councils' role in relation to a sporting legacy and a small snapshot of case studies.

 

Councils, working with County Sport and Physical Activity Partnerships, have five key roles in achieving a sporting legacy from the 2012 Games, and this applies to all councils regardless of whether or not they have a direct involvement with staging the Games:

 

Local political leadership: Locally elected councillors know the needs of their communities and their aspirations for a sporting legacy. They can make sure that sport is given a high priority locally, is reflected in strategic planning and is championed in partnerships. Councillors are uniquely placed to reach those on the margins of society who are not reached through traditional forms of community engagement. This is particularly important in reaching out to young people, who are at the heart of national sporting legacy ambitions. Councillors who understand the potential of the 2012 Games to benefit their communities are also passionate advocates and champions of sporting legacy, helping to enthuse less engaged peers within their own council and beyond.

 

Spending power: Local authorities invest 1.5bn per year (including capital spend) in sport and have historically been a passionate provider and facilitator of sport in partnership with local, regional and national bodies. This is by far the largest public contribution to sport from any one sector. Councils are also at the forefront of levering in funding from other sources, such as PCTs.

 

Infrastructure: As service provider, local government is crucial to the provision and maintenance of facilities and activities that make up a ladder of participation that ranges from the grassroots to the elite. Councils run - either directly or through leisure management agreements, the vast majority of places where people play sport. It is in council-owned pools, parks and gyms that enthusiastic amateurs and future sporting stars alike can first encounter the thrill of sporting success.

 

Strategic planning and partnerships: Local Authorities are uniquely placed at the juncture of local communities and sport, working closely with County Sport and Physical Activity Partnerships, National Governing Bodies and local sports clubs. It is here that we can help realise the benefits of sport for all. Councils also lead Local Strategic Partnerships and can bring together partners from the public, private and third sectors to take coordinated action in pursuit of shared goals, often including sport.

 

Unlocking the wider benefits of sport: local government, in partnership with other agencies and the private and third sectors, already use sport as a powerful tool to achieve wider outcomes. The passion and enthusiasm of the Olympic and Paralympic Games can inspire people to change the habits of a lifetime, and legacy needs to focus strongly on how sport and physical activity can help to create healthier, stronger and safer communities. Sport can be used to develop positive activities for young people, improve the well-being of children or boost the local economy through hosting major events.

 

Below is a snapshot of case studies about how local authorities are using the 2012 Games to inspire people to be more active.

 

Team Essex's Ambassador's Award offers meaningful grant aid to potential Paralympians and Olympians, who also take on an ambassadorial role to help inspire people to be more active;

 

Middlesbrough's Type 2 Diabetes Project uses the Games to encourage people identified as being at risk of type 2 diabetes to lead healthier lifestyles by providing a programme of tailored support in partnership with the PCT;

 

Sheffield's Lighting the Flame for Sport is a whole council strategic approach to using the 2012 Games as a springboard to increase participation, strengthen coaching and volunteering, and attract major sporting events;

 

Hackney's Personal Best project provides young people with exciting events and materials to enthuse them to be the best they can;

 

Dorset's Spirit of the Sea connects sport and culture to put on an annual festival that offers people the chance to try new sports and boosts the local economy.

 

January 2010