/ Chair's Opinion / Chair’s Opinion

Chair’s Opinion

Mark Allman looks back over his time as Chair of CLOA.

I can’t believe how quickly 2 years has gone! I got a call from Iain Varah the then Chair, when at a UK sport event at the Arsenals’ Emirates Stadium, asking me to consider the Chairs position and it seems like yesterday not nearly 3 years ago!

Being Chair is a privileged position, in so far as the organisations you come into direct contact with and the people within those organisations that you have the opportunity to engage with. But it isn’t just that. Being on the Executive and being Chair allows you to mix with some great peers and people whose knowledge and support have been invaluable.

I would like to thank our sponsors for their continued support:- Xn Leisure and Alliance.  We operate on a very limited budget and their support is incredibly valuable to us.

So, it’s been an eventful year topped by us now having our AGM post General election with developments in the past week or so adding extra spice to future discussions no doubt. The work of the Executive continues to be progressive and impactful. We have to be selective in what we do, but we do continue to influence key people across partner organisations as well as provide support and guidance to our membership. I’d like to outline some highlights though:

  • Membership drive – the landscape for culture and sport is turbulent with redundancies and early retirements arising due to the relentless pressure on budgets, indeed many organisations have has their subscriptions budget cut.  To counteract this and ensure our membership base continues to grow, we have been running a membership campaign to recruit non-subscribing local authorities.  This has resulted in 3 new corporate members and 11 Individual members recently.
  • Phase 3 ‘Commissioning for Local Authorities’ work with Sport England – we appointed The Media Group to produce additional films about the process around topics such as ‘Building relationships’ ‘Shaping the offer’ alongside a more focused case study looking at the journey in Durham. The aim being to make the resources more engaging.  We’ll be cascading these over the coming months, so do look out for them. We will also be co-ordinating focused strategic challenges in a number of locations to help build relationships locally, help bring previously identified opportunities to fruition, and further position the contribution of sport and physical activity within the wider corporate commissioning agenda.
  • We have worked with LGA on the production of the placemaking publication People, culture, place: the role of culture in placemaking that highlights how councils are using culture to create a sense of shared identity and purpose in their areas, and to tackle their big issues of the day.  It contains 10 case studies where officer and political leadership has combined to develop innovative practice using cultural activities to bring about positive changes to their places. Together, these show how the arts and culture can be used to improve a wide range of measurable outcomes, from education and wellbeing to economic growth and community cohesion. Many thanks to members who submitted case studies.
  • We have contributed to the County Sport Partnership review carried out by Andy Reid and continue to input. We have also assisted Sport England as part of their wider consultation process on the local delivery pilots and continue to advocate strongly for funding to be focussed more towards local delivery, with local authorities playing their place making role.
  • We continue to enjoy really positive relations with SPORTA and with Brian Leonard in particular. I attended their AGM and took part in panel debate about the state of the sport and leisure sector. SPORTA are keen for CLOA to play a more proactive leadership role, representing the “client” function of Local Authorities in discussions with Sport England and ACE.
  • I have spoken at a number of other events including, the “Why Sport” event in Manchester in October and the Elevate conference in May 2017, both of which gave me a chance to talk about repositioning physical activity to drive cultural change. By speaking at this event, as well as other colleagues on the Executive at other events, it gave our members the opportunity to attend at discounted rates or even for free.
  • We have had difficult conversations at the Executive about some of our leadership development work (Leading Learning) and perhaps in light of things I will come too we might reflect on the role we play in supporting the development of the Leaders of tomorrow. The key question being how do we best support and grow our leaders of tomorrow in this sector.
  • We have held strategic conversations with The National Archives (Jeff James CEO) and thanks to Isobel Hunter for all her support in continuing to broker such a positive association.
  • Whilst we had a slightly different presence at the LGA conference this year, I think our contributions continue to be welcomed and thanks to John Wileman and Richard Hunt for their contributions alongside Vice-Chairs Polly Hamilton and Debbie Kaye.
  • We are working  with the LGA and SPORTA, looking at producing a short guide on delivery models for Leisure centres and Sport
  • We are also working with Creative Industries Federation on an incentivised membership deal to give our members access to CIF reports, research and events.
  • Our bulletin continues to be hugely valued by members and the feedback is really positive. Heidi has developed the approach with a number of new sections that includes; space for members to place adverts for senior leisure and culture posts; a focus on best practice with member case studies; and a quarterly update from the work of the Executive Committee.
  • Thanks must go to the Vice Chairs and Past Chair for their support across many areas of our work as an Executive:
    • Thanks to Polly who has done sterling work on the Arts and culture front leading conversations with ACE as well as giving evidence at culture sport and media committee in terms of CLOA’s response to the Countries of Culture inquiry.
    • Thanks to Debbie also, who amongst other things has been our eyes and ears inside ukactive, where we enjoy positive working relationship and one that we will continue to further develop.
    • Thanks to Ian Brooke, for your support in pulling together CLOA’s response to The Parks enquiry launched by DCLG and for engagement in a number of other pieces of work.
    • Finally, thanks also to Iain Varah who continues to represent CLOA on the Libraries Taskforce, inputs wisdom into planning the Commissioning work with Sport England, deputises for me as Chair and has been of great support to both myself and Heidi.

Looking ahead, we might be at a crossroads, but one which present opportunities. I believe there is a vacuum CLOA can fill in providing support, advice, guidance to both Sport England and ACE, but it would require CLOA to grow its membership and build its capacity to find the time to undertake that support work.  We are asking both ACE and Sport England, how we can help them and I’m convinced that a strong CLOA is in their mutual interests.  We have put proposals to both ACE and Sport England and are having our first conversation with Sport England in July.

So, in summary:-  It been an incredibly rewarding time as Chair, I think we have some vitally important conversations to come but I’m really hopeful that in 2 years’ time CLOA will be stronger than ever. I’d like to thank you all for your support and the spirit into which you have contributed to meetings. As Iain Varah will know though being immediate Past Chair doesn’t mean I’m off the hook, so I will look forward to giving Ian Brooke, our incoming Chair, all the help I can in the 2 years ahead.

Thank you to everyone and keep the passion for what we do burning!

Mark Allman, Immediate Past Chair of CLOA

Read more

Securing the future of public sport and leisure services
We are pleased to share ‘Securing the future of public sport and leisure services’.  This summary report is the culmination of a research project to explore the future of public sport and leisure services, following the seismic changes to the sector as a result of the health pandemic.  It evaluates the current state of public [...]Read More...
On the road to a more diverse CLOA
If we want to tap into the creative capacity of everyone, not just those with the greatest opportunity, we have to design things differently.  If we want our decisions to be rounded, with input from different perspectives, we have to open our discussions up and hear the voices, stories and variety of experiences across society.  [...]Read More...
The impact of Covid-19 on DCMS sectors
The Covid-19 crisis presents the biggest threat to the UK’s cultural and sporting infrastructure, institutions and workforce in a generation. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) now published the report on the impact of Covid-19 on DCMS sector. The report calls on the government to extend emergency funding to prevent a collapse [...]Read More...
Co-ordinating and adapting in the face of Covid-19
These past two weeks we have all been focused on how to address the immediate needs of our sector.  We have seen the national sector bodies, Arts Council England, Sport England and the National Heritage Lottery Fund announce schemes to support the arts, culture, heritage and sport, sitting alongside the generic support from central government [...]Read More...
Covid -19
The pace of the developing Covid-19 situation is raising a large number of issues for all of us in managing services across leisure and culture.  In this initial phase we are all looking for quick answers to complex questions and trying to extend our thinking capacity while we continue to tackle the urgent issues that [...]Read More...
Chair's Opinion
Outgoing Chair of CLOA, Ian Brooke reflects on his two years in post. It’s been a busy two years ….but very proud that I’ve done it. [...]Read More...
Chair's Opinion
Chair of CLOA, Ian Brooke announces a new Associate sponsor and reflects on what you told us was important in the recent members survey.  [...]Read More...
Chair's Opinion
Chair of CLOA, Ian Brooke announces a new Associate sponsor and reflects on what you told us was important in the recent members survey. [...]Read More...
Chair's Opinion
CLOA welcomes the Governments’ proposal to produce a new national Sport Strategy and Mark Allman, Chair of CLOA, shares the Associations’ response to what we consider to be critical issues moving forward. [...]Read More...
Chair's Opinion
Mark Allman, Chair of CLOA urges members to feedback on the New Strategy for Sport: Consultation Paper. [...]Read More...
Chair's Opinion
Mark Allman, Chair of CLOA feels that the next 2 years are going to continue to be a massive challenge for those of us responsible for culture and leisure services, but there is reason for optimism and a raft of opportunities. [...]Read More...
Chair's Opinion
Iain Varah, Chair & Mark Allman, Vice- Chair of CLOA reflect on the future role of local authority sports and leisure services and the principle issues facing local government. [...]Read More...
Chair's Opinion
Iain Varah, has now been Chair of CLOA for almost a month….. His first opinion column reflects on the Members Meeting in June and summarises the key points made by the excellent line-up of speakers.  You can also find out what he has been doing during his first month of tenure, who he has met [...]Read More...
Chair's Opinion
Time to pass on the baton… Richard Hunt signs off as his term as Chair of CLOA comes to an end. [...]Read More...
Chair's Opinion
Richard Hunt, Chair of CLOA welcomes the green shoots for sporting legacy with a long awaited £150 million school sport investment, but cautions that multiple offers from a range of deliver partners could cause fragmentation.  He calls for leaders to get involved and help ensure that future commissioning for sport and P.E. really meet the [...]Read More...
Chair's Opinion
Richard Hunt, Chair of CLOA provides an insight into the impact of the cuts, and makes some compelling suggestions as to how the sector best brings about joined up local solutions in an article for Sports Management Magazine. [...]Read More...
Chair's Opinion
Richard Hunt, Chair of CLOA asserts that we need to raise our game again and accelerate the debate for a rounded legacy strategy that includes public health, CCGs and the education sector as key sport and physical activity partners and investors. [...]Read More...
Chair's Opinion
Richard Hunt reflects on his year as Chair of CLOA, considering the three core areas of focus for the sector as we move into ‘legacy mode’ and sharing the headlines from CLOA’s latest financial survey. [...]Read More...