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Paper 10 - 26 March 1999 Meeting

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

26 March 1999

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION

LEISURE AND TOURISM REGIONAL MEETING

Report by the Director of Arts, Countryside and Community, Hampshire County Council

RECOMMENDATION

It is recommended that the report be noted.

SUMMARY

(1) This report summarises the proceedings of the first regional meeting held by the Local Government Association Leisure and Tourism Committee in the South East of England.

(2) The main concern of the LGA is to make a clearer and closer connection with local authorities at regional level to enable it to be more responsive to local issues and concerns than is catered for by its national committee structure.

(3) The main issues covered at the meeting were DCMS Cultural Strategies, the main agenda of the LGA Leisure and Tourism Committee, the IT contribution of Libraries, and the implications of Regional Government.

INTRODUCTION

1. The meeting convened by the Local Government Association Leisure and Tourism Committee on 9 March 1999 was one of nine meetings being held across all the regions to brief local authorities on the work of the Committee and to identify areas of concern. The meeting was chaired by Councillor Heinitz, who is the chairman of the LGA Committee, and who also made the main presentation on the work that they were undertaking.

He was aware of the problems caused by LGA structures. His Committee, which contained sixty-four members, was too large, but on the other hand, was too small to be representative of all local authorities. Nevertheless, he felt that the LGA in the area of Leisure and Tourism had established a very effective and influential relationship with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. The Committee was sub-divided into four sub-groups as follows:

Arts and Museums

Libraries

Sport and Recreation

Europe

KEY ISSUES

(a) Local Cultural Strategies

LGA were working closely with DCMS on finalising a framework for integrated cultural strategies. There was currently a consultation document on this, and Local authorities were being invited to volunteer as pilots for this process. (It should be noted that Hampshire County Council has put itself forward as one of these pilot authorities).

(b) The Corporate Context of Leisure/Culture Strategies

LGA argued strongly that policies in the area of Leisure, Culture and Tourism were some of the most effective in delivering corporate goals of local authorities. Key strategies to which they made a major contribution were Social Inclusion, Crime and Disorder reduction, Regeneration, Lifelong Learning, Healthy Living, Public Safety and Environmental Sustainability.

(c) Tourism

The Committee's latest initiative in relation to Tourism was entitled "Tourism for All" and focused particularly on those sectors of society for whom tourism was difficult to undertake. This included the disabled, and others (eg. carers) who they felt should have "the right to a break".

(d) Children's Play

The Committee were keen to maximise Lottery opportunities for Children's Play. This did not merely mean investment in climbing frames and swings, but the creation of spaces which, whilst well protected, enabled children to "learn about risk".

(e) Libraries

There was considerable discussion at the meeting about libraries. The LGA were keen to promote the report "The Peoples' Network" with its emphasis on the key role that libraries should play in the delivery and effective use of the Internet and other intranet systems. There was also discussion about some of the shortcomings of the Government's requirements for "library plans" and unreasonable assessments which have been made of certain local authorities.

THE REGIONAL AGENDA

LGA recognised the complexities of the structure and geography of the South East Region,

which also created problems for them in terms of coherence and contact. The DCMS plan for

regional cultural consortia had left a rather ill-defined set of structures. They were

concerned that elected members should play a greater part in these new regional consortia for cultural and leisure affairs.

COMMENTS FROM REPRESENTATIVES

There were about seventy members and officers in attendance from across the South East Region. In the discussion period, matters raised by members included the problems of regional boundaries, the important input which leisure/cultural services had into education and lifelong learning, the economic contribution of these services, and the particular needs of the increasingly dominant group in society (namely, the retired).

CONCLUSION

The meeting was helpful as an information exchange, but needs to be developed considerably if it is to be a vehicle for engaging the key interests and concerns of the local authorities in a more systematic and coherent way.

EWART WOOLDRIDGE 
Director of Arts, Countryside and Community
 
Hampshire County Council

Last update: 10/10/2000
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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