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Sport Wales puts forward 25-year facilities plan

The organisation’s Graham Williams talks about creating a modern, fit-for-purpose facilities landscape

Published in Sports Management 18 Apr 2016 issue 118
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Sport Wales deputy director of community sport Graham Williams
Sport Wales deputy director of community sport Graham Williams

Sports Wales is hoping to create a “modern, fit-for-purpose and inclusive” sports facilities landscape following the publication of its 25-year improvement plan.

Earlier this month the funding body revealed its Facilities for Future Generations: A Blueprint for Sport and Active Recreation report in collaboration with the Welsh government, in which it set out a framework and recommendations to upgrade ageing stock in a sustainable manner.

The report recommended a strategy built on national and regional sports infrastructure plans, increased evidence gathering on facilities, and performance measures based on profitability and impact on activity habits.

Talking to Sports Management following the publication of the blueprint, Sport Wales deputy director of community sport Graham Williams emphasised the need for a “long-term, joined-up” view in the face of shrinking local authority budgets and changes to consumer tastes and needs.

“What we are facing today is some pretty significant revenue challenges around how we can maintain facilities,” said Williams. “One of the questions we’re posing back to the sector is can it just maintain what it’s got, what do we need for the future, and what aspects of the service needs to be delivered by other companies such as the private sector?”

The blueprint, according to Williams, was created on the request of the sport sector which was looking for advice in challenging circumstances, coupled with a government focus on the wellbeing of future generations. The government has launched a £5m (US$7.2m, €6.3m) interest free capital loan scheme which local government can access for improvements, making sure quality sports facilities can be found in hard-to-reach areas.

Sport Wales’ document called for local government to review all its current and planned provisions to make sure they are fit-for-purpose presently and in the future, integration of sporting infrastructure plans in wider estate strategies and a nationally coordinated review of aquatics facilities.

“This isn’t a top down blueprint. We haven’t sat in a room with government officials and said ‘this is what everyone needs to do,’” he said. “We’ve done this with the sector and on behalf of the sport sector in Wales. The actions have been checked and challenged.”

Following the publication of the strategy, deputy minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Ken Skates will write to all his fellow ministers to raise awareness and to make sure the document is taken into account.

Williams added: “We’ve already started discussions with the sector about how we might move these nice words into action. We see this as the start of the journey, not the end.”

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