15 November 2013

New strategy to boost sport and physical activity in the city

A sports and physical activity strategy for Brighton & Hove aims to help improve the health and happiness of local people by getting more people, more active, more often.

Covering the period 2013-18, the plan is to increase numbers of people doing sport and physical activity against a background of tightening public spending budgets. In the UK the estimated annual cost of ill health directly attributable to physical inactivity is estimated to be £1 billion.

More than three quarters of city residents do less than the recommended levels of physical activity.  Just 25 per cent of adults undertake the recommended activity levels a week.

The strategy calls for increased participation particularly among young people, women, older people, disabled people and those from ethnic minorities.

Another goal is encouraging and supporting people from all areas of the city to take up sport. More volunteers are needed to run activities.

The strategy says the city lags behind comparable cities in its public leisure facilities. It re-states a commitment to provide by 2022 a new large multi-purpose sports centre, increase the number of community swimming pools and create a new specialist gymnastics facility.

But targets also include the council organising inclusive activity sessions such as Health Walks and free swimming for young people to encourage residents off the city’s sofas.

The strategy was approved by the city council's economic development and culture committee on Thursday November 14.

Chair of the committee Cllr Geoffrey Bowden said: “There was a big wave of enthusiasm for sport after the 2012 Olympics.  Things like the Brighton Marathon and our Take Part in sport initiatives are helping.  But we need still more participation to improve public health and make people’s lives more pleasant and rewarding.

“Part of it is about building new facilities - and though money is incredibly tight we’re working on that.  It’s also about encouraging the least active groups to use the facilities and opportunities that already exist.  A vigorous walk costs nothing yet still too few people take one.

“This is damaging our collective health and costing us millions.”