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Sports and Leisure Facilities

Volume 449: debated on Tuesday 25 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what conclusions on (a) the relative merits of (i) private and (ii) public sector contracts for sports and leisure facilities and (b) the future letting of contracts for sport and leisure facilities she drew from the Audit Commission report “Public Sports and Recreational Services”. (87625)

I have been asked to reply.

I agree with the report's conclusion that there is no single “best practice” model for managing local authority leisure services. The report makes clear that both the public and private sector can provide good public leisure services for local communities where councils have taken decisions based on a robust options appraisal. It is important that councils, with support from Government, continue to get better at managing their leisure provision which is why I have asked Sport England to work closely with them in taking forward the Audit Commission's recommendations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps she will take to improve strategic planning in leisure services following the publication of the Audit Commission report “Public Sports and Recreational Services”. (87626)

I have been asked to reply.

We want to help local authorities to revitalise their leisure facilities and to ensure that the right sports facilities are in the right places. Sport England has already developed a range of strategic planning tools to assist them. These include, among others: the Active Places database, which provides a comprehensive picture of sports facilities across the country; the National Benchmarking Service; a Facilities Planning Model; and a Sports Facilities Demand Estimator. In addition, I have charged Sport England with the task of driving forward work with local authorities to improve the quality of their sports facilities and service delivery. They are creating an Improvement Unit to deliver this.