Well, the local elections came and went. If you blinked you might have missed it all, unless you were trying to vote in Barnett this month!
I was wondering what the implications of the outcomes might be…
It is likely that the financial pressures that local authorities have been juggling with are almost certain to continue. Had the electorate given David Cameron a bloody nose, I suspect that he and George Osborne might have had to look a bit more closely at what was happening at a very local service level. But, that was not the case. So austerity continues within the public sector. In July 2015, the FT was reporting on the £18bn of cuts facing local authorities and that is set to carry on. For those looking after leisure this could be a real headache. As a non statutory service it is bound to continue to be put under ever greater scrutiny and pressure. We are talking to more and more clients who are balancing the political will to deliver leisure activities against the need to reduce subsidy. As 2020 grows closer and the full impact of the NNDR changes bite, this will be magnified.
We will be watching Scotland and Wales with interest. The subtle, but important changes that took place with the make up of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly will no doubt have an impact. In Scotland we are seeing service market testing and no doubt that will receive much scrutiny from management contractors and leisure trusts from south of the border.
For our part here at Alliance, we are continuing to work with leisure providers to allow better services to be delivered for less. Our recent development on behalf on Inverclyde Leisure is a case in point. The centre was looking as though it would be shut down, but the transformation delivered by Alliance for the Council and Inverclyde Leisure has allowed the centre not only to remain open, but also has created a local and regional offer leading to a reduction in the running costs, creating new local jobs and crucially contributing to the local health improvement agenda. I am sure that if you look at the before and after pictures below, you will agree that it is an amazing transformation.
We are also incredibly excited that the new Summit Indoor Adventure facility will be opening on 21st May. Delivered by Alliance on behalf of Selby Council and Inspiring healthy lifestyles the new centre adjoining the leisure centre will offer an skate park, sky trail, ten pin bowling, VerTgo climbing, soft play and indoor skiing.
All in all, whilst we know that budgets are tight, and going to get tighter, we also believe that with some creative thinking and working with great teams, we can find answers which will drive participation and reduce subsidies.