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Cate Atwater: Leisure sector is in a "race to the bottom"

By Andy Knaggs    04 May 2019
Community Leisure UK's focus is on driving greater impact for its member leisure and culture trusts
The challenges are significant, while the need for services is increasing right across the life course
– Cate Atwater

Procurement practices are driving a race to the bottom in the delivery of public leisure services, according to Community Leisure UK CEO Cate Atwater.

Her organisation is the membership association representing charitable leisure trusts in the UK, and was known as Sporta until a recent rebrand.

Speaking in an exclusive interview in Sports Management, published in Issue 1 2019, Atwater said she was worried about the pressures being put on the delivery of public leisure services, stating that "public services right across the board are under significant strain to achieve the same or even more, with less financial investment".

"The challenges are significant, while the need for services is increasing right across the life course," she said. "Every public service is under pressure, and in leisure we’re in a race to the bottom driven by procurement practice."

Atwater also called for more support for local authorities in making "longer-term, insight-driven and outcomes-based decisions" in relation to public leisure services, focusing on areas such as partnership, collaboration and building trust and co-ownership. She went on to express the need for central leisure policy "ownership" and long-term strategising, to enable services to develop and be supported in the future.

Making public leisure services a statutory service would provide "central government oversight, care and ownership, and would drive a need for collaboration", she said.

To read the full article see Issue 1 2019 of Sports Management here

Cate Atwater  Sporta  Community Leisure UK  public leisure services  charitable leisure trusts 
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