Today’s guest blog on sport comes from my Cabinet Lead for Sport, Kye Dudd.
I am pleased to lead on Sport in the Mayor’s Cabinet – delivering the most pro-sports administration the city has ever seen. Our approach to sport involves three priorities: to increase physical activity and sport participation, support the development of professionals, and to bring major sporting events here. By creating working groups including Bristol’s sporting community, we will move these three areas forward.
Sport and general physical activity has an important role in both physical and mental health, and we want to inspire people to get involved. Participation is very good in Bristol: 70.3% of residents do at least 150 minutes per week of physical activity, the highest of all the Core Cities. I am proud of this statistic, but I know we can do better in certain areas.
We have launched campaigns such as ‘Bristol Girls Can’ to promote sport and physical activity in under-represented groups, and we are working with community groups to understand how we can build on the existing offer of accessibility to council sports facilities.
This administration also provides the platform from which athletes and professional sportsmen and sportswomen from Bristol can thrive, which in turn can inspire the next generation. Successful professional sports clubs bring major economic benefits to Bristol, and we will continue to work with all of Bristol’s professional clubs – football, rugby, cricket and others – to help them achieve top-level success.
At our Cabinet meeting on July 3rd it was a pleasure to adopt the Sports Facilities Strategy. Following the legacy of our Playing Pitch Strategy, European City of Sport 2017, Bristol Active City and Sports Gatherings, this underlines the Mayor’s commitment to sport in Bristol.
The Sport Facility Strategy identified that although facilities were generally good, there were several areas which need investment. There is a need for increased swimming provision in East/Central Bristol and for new larger multi-court sports halls with 12 or more courts (sometimes known as mini-arenas) to attract more indoor events. In addition to building these facilities ourselves, we will also work with partners like Sport England, the professional clubs and our new schools programme to deliver some of this provision. We are investing heavily in cycling, including the potential for a new closed road circuit.
Our partnership with the Lawn Tennis Association to provide a new sustainable city-wide parks tennis model includes investment of over £500,000 in The Ardagh, Canford Park, St. George’s Park and Eastville. We are working with the FA and the Football Foundation to improve football provision across the city, including looking at new modern changing facilities for the Bristol Downs League which hasn’t seen any investment for decades. We are also supporting Bristol Rovers with their Memorial Stadium redevelopment, Bristol Sport with their new indoor sports arena and any further improvements to Ashton Gate.
We are proactive in organising and delivering major sporting events for Bristol. The city hosted the Bristol Grand Prix through our partnership with British Cycling and we have the Tour of Britain coming this autumn, at no cost to the council. We introduced new events, such as the inaugural Power8 rowing sprints during the Harbour Festival, and Two Cricket World Cup matches to be held at the County Ground in 2019. The Mayor was in the delegation to meet the English Cricket Board earlier this year, which delivered a future of T20 internationals for Bristol. The Mayor will push for Bristol to be a host city for the 2030 World Cup if the FA proceed with our bid.
Sport isn’t only of physical, economic and cultural benefit to Bristolians, it can be a positive intervention in the lives of young people and provides an important structure that keeps many on track and out of trouble. Both the Mayor and I have personal experience of this, which is why this is such an important focus for us.
This is why, whatever your sport and however you play, it will now be supported to flourish in Bristol.