Wednesday 21 August 2013

Barnet's Non Existent Leisure Strategy

For more than four and a half years I have been asking what is the council's Leisure Strategy. Without a leisure strategy is is hard to plan what facilities should be provided and whether the council's leisure provider GLL is doing an appropriate job. I blogged about this back in September 2011 and again in February 2012.Consultants were appointed but we never saw a copy of their report and then leisure became a 'One Barnet' project  - in other word waste loads of money and take twice as long to achieve very little. Last October at the Cabinet Resources meeting they discussed a series of options for leisure (now called the Sports & Physical Activity Review). The report noted:

"Physical activity levels within the borough are poor. Barnet is currently ranked 23rd out of 33 London boroughs for levels of adult physical activity according to the Sport England Active People Survey (5 Oct 2010). Physical activity levels of school children in Barnet are below the national average, with particular concerns relating to some faith schools and areas of deprivation".

They came up with a series of options as follows:
  1. Divest and exit
  2. Maintain spend but use resources differently
  3. Cost reduction
  4. Invest to save
  5. Invest in new capital infrastructure
However, they promptly ruled out option 5 on the grounds that it wasn't "affordable". There was also a One Barnet style  project management report  which identified a project budget of £198,000 and a deadline of April 2013. They had already spent £100,000 by October 2012 so one would reasonably expect that the deadline of April would be achievable. Lots of named project members including Ed Gowan, now departed to Agilisys and Mick Quigley now departed to be headteacher at the Archer Academy. Roll forward to April 2013 and there is still no sight of the review. Then in June 2013 on the Budget & Performance Scrutiny Committee meeting Future Work Programme there is a mention of the review on the long list, post March 2014, and a request to receive an update on the review -  no date, no deadline.

This is what really gets me about Barnet Council; they are full of talk but no one ever follows up. It was quite clear in September 2011 that this was going to be kicked into the long grass. Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent for no outcome which is shocking. Meanwhile we have a very poor leisure service as recognised in this year's Residents Perception Survey which showed a decline in satisfaction by 4% points and was rated 16% points lower than average London Councils, the worse result of any of the satisfaction criteria. Barnet are all about big gestures but continue to fail on the day to day business of delivering what people want or need.

1 comment:

  1. For Leisure to be as bad as Parking it must be really bad. The council are so busy with the highfalutin One Barnet programme instead of dealing with fundamentals, they need to get Back to Basics.

    Mind you, when it comes to fundamentals the council are about to go seriously wrong with recycling and the increased number of large unsightly wheely bins they are about to foist on us. There will be thousands of complaints (Cllr Brian Coleman has already mentioned 4) and the council just don't see them coming.