Never has there been a time in British history when staying fit has been so high on the political agenda. The pandemic has shone a spotlight on how vital it is to integrate physical activity into daily lives for wellbeing and a robust immune system.
A vibrant sport and leisure scene also underpins the health of a local economy – a message I was keen to drive home as a guest speaker at the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) National Leisure Advisory Group conference.
Staged virtually, before an audience of senior local government officers and Trust organisations, I was delighted to be able to share my expertise as MD of international sports and commerce Sphere Connect, UK and Ireland President of ACES Europe and European Cycling Directeur.
My presentation Using Sport to Support Economic Growth drew on 25 years of experience in the sport and leisure industry including my former role as a local government Chief Officer.
Key areas of my presentation:
Pandemic and public sector finances: Providing access to sport and leisure for all remains critical to a long-term strategy to relieve pressure on the NHS and welfare state. Sport also adds to economic output through commercial activity and facilitates better lifestyles and increased earning power.
Let’s maximise on the current cycling boom: It’s fun, free and physical – best of all cycling supports sustainability. The ‘cycling boom’ is no ‘flash in the pan’ and presents a major opportunity to involve private sector and public sector partners in projects, infrastructure development and animation of these new facilities.
European Cycling Directeur: I am looking to work with key stakeholders to get as many people #BikeActive as possible. Local Authorities have a vital role to play. Together we can:
Develop winning cycling strategies
Identify and promote events
Identify profile-raising awards and source funding/sponsorship
Identify cycling activities, schemes and animate ideas
Identify delivery partners for activities and schemes
Share successes with a wide UK & European audience
Examples of activities that work:
High Profile Cycling Awards: Showcase cycling development and investment, encourage inward investment, boost tourism and the local economy, attract funding and sponsorship
Professional Cycle Race Events: Animate town/city centres, engage the local community and businesses, encourage inward investment.
The Rainbow Ride: Cycling for all ages and abilities, improve health, fitness and wellbeing, raise money for local NHS hospitals, be part of a UK-wide cycling community