Lambeth is planning improvements at Brixton Rec, along with ambitions for three new artificial sports pitches at Brockwell Park, Ruskin Park and Clapham Common. Yet a Council report backing these “improvements” makes no mention of what they might actually be.
The Active Lambeth Strategy 2022-27 document also confirms that the Council wishes to transform the bowls arena at Brockwell Park into a multi-sports area. This will include a 5-a-side side court, skate park and outdoor fitness equipment.
It is also claimed that the Council will set up club bases in the borough for cricket and rugby. Currently, these are lacking.
Cabinet will discuss plans for the report at its next meeting at City Hall on March 21. The proposed five-year strategy replaces the previous guidance document which is about to run its course.
The general objective of the strategy is to:
“How sport can ensure education, public health, transportation, parks, adults, children and community safety.”
These are well-intentioned goals. But there is a stretcher feeling about strategic goals around every policy idea, regardless of context.
As always, money can get in the way of such grand ambitions. The report admits:
“The depth of the impact will depend on the level of resources that can be devoted to its implementation”
The report then refers to plans to take over the leisure contract internally in April 2023 as a possible way to raise funds.
Lambeth is counting on getting residents through the doors after the Covid pandemic to generate more cash. The Council has set itself an objective of 2,250,000 annual visits to the borough’s leisure facilities when it regains control of the contract. There was a drop of 1 million visits during the various confinements.
There’s also the claim that the Council will get £2m of external investment in Lambeth’s sports facilities and parks – but no mention of where that will come from.
The report includes some disturbing statistics: 26% of children in Lambeth are overweight by the age of 11; 25% of adults don’t exercise enough to improve their health.
The report acknowledges that Lambeth has the seventh largest population in London, but one of the lowest numbers of playgrounds.
To help improve access to the resources the Council has, there is a commitment:
“Our most disadvantaged residents will have access to free or discounted access to facilities and opportunities.”
Lambeth Labor promised, promised”free swimming for each residentin 2010. It didn’t materialize beyond an election manifesto.
A new Lambeth Sports Partnership Board will be set up. This will aim to act as a coordination group covering the local sports club. Three new employees will be needed to deal with this. The report speculates that these could be stolen from Greenwich Leisure Ltd once the organization leaves the borough.
Finally, the strategy claims that Lambeth will partner with a world-class university to raise aspirations in the borough. It does not say which university it is.