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Call for Climate Action to be at the Heart of Recovery

The Chief Cultural & Leisure Officers Association is part of a group of industry experts in the local authority public sports and leisure sector that has called on the COP26 UK delegation to recognise the importance of the sector in helping the UK reach its ambitious climate change targets; especially as the sector seeks to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 health pandemic.

In a statement agreed across leading partners in local government involved in the promotion of physical activity, which brings together APSE, CLOA, Community Leisure UK, District Councils Network, and Active Partnerships representing local councils and Trusts operating public leisure facilities, the unified voice of the sector has called for widespread investment in decarbonising the vital community level leisure facilities.

The group has called for a starting point of a £1 Billion capital funding pot to support the replacement or refurbishment of antiquated leisure assets, which carry a heavy carbon footprint, to allow for the development of low energy, low carbon and fit-for-purpose assets, which will help communities as the sector focuses on physical activity, as an ill-health prevention measure, in post-covid recovery. By ensuring these newer or refurbished assets are greener the sector can achieve more by way of climate change endeavours to decarbonise the UK and meet the aims of COP26.

The Partners Climate Change and Physical Activity – Position Statement

Key Summary Points

  • Increasing financial support to the public leisure sector is one of the best long-term invest to save initiatives that the government can make in terms of physical health, mental health and social cohesion.
  • This is a chance to redesign and reshape our current leisure and cultural facility stock with climate in mind, in order to future proof local authority leisure provision, for which investment is required.
  • If £1 Billion of additional funding were to be made available to local authorities, distributed over the next 3 years, through a decarbonisation capital replacement programme, based on a strategic needs assessment; this could see enough money allocated to each UK local authority to build/refurbish facilities to Passivhaus or similar standards over that time, supporting decarbonisation of the leisure estate.
  • This is an opportunity to accelerate the ongoing reshaping and redesign of current leisure sites to also act as community hubs. These hubs can be thought about in relation to other key agendas such as the 20-minute neighbourhood idea and wider spatial planning.
  • Public leisure plays a key role in town and city development, and with this contributes to active lifestyles.
  • Providing more opportunities for people to engage in sport and physical activity in a carbon friendly way will support the Government’s health agenda to reduce sedentary lifestyles and behaviours and prevent long-term health conditions. Specifically, the Government’s prevention agenda, obesity strategy, the school sport and activity action plan, and the staying mentally well: winter plan 2020 to 2021.
  • All of the above needs public funding to support its core activities but generates multiple benefits for society and is one of the best long term investments government(s) can make; it promotes public health and cuts huge cost through ill health prevention.

Debbie Kaye, Chair of CLOA said “The UK’s much-valued public sports and leisure provision is at the heart of our nations’ healthy recovery from COVID-19, but funding support is needed from Government to modernise our pools and sports centres so that they are accessible, low energy, low carbon and fit for purpose assets and can fully play their part”

You can read the full position statement here