Sports governing bodies and local clubs will be invited to play a greater role in the management and investment in outdoor sports facilities in Sheffield as the council faces the challenges of ever-reducing government funding.
Sheffield City Council has developed an Outdoor Sports Strategy which calls on dedicated sports providers, governing bodies and local clubs to take a greater lead on seeking new investment and managing the delivery of programmes and venues.
In the face of unprecedented budget cuts from central Government, the council wants to ensure sports governing bodies, leagues and clubs become less dependent on the local authority and lean further towards greater interdependence amongst their key partners. The council also wants to encourage clubs and providers to improve their own financial sustainability by finding new sources of independent funding.
The council’s Cabinet members will discuss the strategy on Wednesday 18 June.
Councillor Isobel Bowler, Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: “The city is facing unprecedented levels of cuts in government funding. However, rather than do nothing, we will actively engage with sports clubs, governing bodies and providers and find new ways of doing things and seek out new sources of investment.
“Sheffield has a strong track record of working with sports governing bodies and clubs and this joint approach is needed now more than ever. Everyone recognises that a joint approach will be our best chance of tackling the cuts and finding a positive way forward.”
The strategy has been developed following a consultation between the council and Sport England and was commissioned to find out the quality and quantity of outdoor sports provision in both public and private ownership since 2013. This involved a major consultation exercise with more than 300 clubs, schools and governing bodies across a number of outdoor sports including, football, tennis, bowls, rugby league and union, cricket and hockey.
If the strategy is given the go ahead, there will be a commitment by the council to help prioritise investment in high quality facilities or sports hubs offering multiple pitches for play, training and competition while at the same time improving the sustainability of non-hub sites.
Work will be carried out with governing bodies and key clubs to invest in artificial surfaces – often within hub sites – which have higher capacities to meet the needs of people who train for both pleasure and professionally and to ensure there is a geographical spread of high quality facilities across Sheffield.
The Cabinet report highlights the need for further investment in football pitches which can cope with high levels of play and operate more economically.
The council and Sport England are also carrying out a joint review of the opportunities to further increase community access to indoor and outdoor sports facilities within schools. There are currently 50 per cent of primary and secondary school sports pitches available for the community to use but the operational and investment needs are being considered to see how this could be increased further.
In response to falling council spending, clubs may be asked to do more routine maintenance jobs themselves and this approach has already been successfully agreed with the city’s bowling clubs.