Leisure provider has role to play in improving health and wellbeing in Northumberland

A series of recommendations have been drawn up to ensure the council’s leisure provider is supporting a healthier Northumberland.

Friday, 7th June 2019, 9:42 am
Active Northumberland manages leisure services on behalf of the county council.
Active Northumberland manages leisure services on behalf of the county council.

But a working group of the authority’s health and wellbeing committee, set up last November to review how Active Northumberland was contributing to improving the health and wellbeing of the county’s residents, also expressed support for a number of initiatives already been carried out or considered by the charitable trust which manages the council’s leisure services.

At Tuesday’s (June 4) meeting of the committee, Labour leader, Coun Susan Dungworth, said: “I found the review uplifting, it felt like it was getting back where it should be.

“If it’s just about swimming pools and gyms for people who can afford it, let’s leave it to the private sector.”

Coun Veronica Jones, the cabinet member for adult health and wellbeing, added: “I’m really pleased with the direction of travel for Active Northumberland; they do understand that they provide much more than leisure or fitness services, that they have got the whole wellbeing agenda.”

Among the requests to be made to Active are that it considers other reduced cost memberships where appropriate ‘to focus on the impact on the people who need them most, especially children’, that it increases publicity about what particular activities are available locally in centres and that it continues to ensure that teaching children to swim is a priority.

Moving, forward, the suggestions will now need to be rubber-stamped by the council’s decision-making cabinet.

There was also praise at Tuesday’s meeting for Active’s chief executive Mark Tweedie, who took over in May last year in the aftermath of a scathing review, which identified ‘significant failings of governance and numerous gaps in the expected level of strategic and operational capability and capacity’.

That same month, county councillors agreed to plug a £2.6million hole in the charity’s finances by meeting Active’s 2017-18 deficit.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service