Agenda item - To receive and consider a report from the Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Cultural Services and Climate Change

Agenda item

To receive and consider a report from the Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Cultural Services and Climate Change

Up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item; no longer than 10 minutes for  presentation of the report and then up to 3 minutes for each question to be put and answered.




The Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Cultural Services and Climate Change presented an annual report which outlined the work that had been undertaken under his remit as portfolio holder over the preceding 12 months.


Council was informed that consideration of the report would be taken in two parts: the first being the Leisure and Cultural Services area followed by the Climate Change Services area.


Members were advised that there were Strategic Purposes aligned to Leisure and Cultural Services and thatthe main progress, since the last report, wasthe launch of the Leisure Strategy in October 2022. It was explained that the strategy had provided vision and detailed the aims for the Council in this area and supported individuals in shaping their own leisure activities. Information was provided in respect of the recommendations contained within the strategy that had already been achieved.


The Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Cultural Services and Climate Change explained to Members that there had been a number of activities that had taken place over the year, which had included the Queen’s Baton Relay in Sanders Park as part of the Commonwealth Games, the Green Fair and the light show which took place in Sanders Park in Autumn 2022.


Council was informed that there had been several partnership initiatives designed to encourage physical activity and sports participation among residents in the District. It was noted that external funding of £46,610, had been received from the Department of Education to fund these sessions.


During the presentation of the Leisure and Cultural Services area of the report, reference was made to the key milestones for the future. These included the development of a capital investment plan for enhancing parks and open spaces, working to establish a volunteer plan and a clear approach to working with Friends groups and the launch of a pilot project for self-management of allotment sites across the District. In addition to this, it was reported to Members that the Council was looking to deliver a pilot project to understand how the Council managed land and could deliver Biodiversity Net Gains.


Following the presentation of this section of the report, Members discussed the following points in detail:


·       How the £2,500 grants were planned to be used by Cultural Compact. It was reported that the grants had been received from Arts Council England and specific details were not available for each project. However, Members were informed that Cultural Compact were a partner of Bromsgrove District Council and therefore work would be undertaken in partnership. Members  also expressed an interest in the work that was being undertaken with partners outside of the District e.g. Redditch and Birmingham. It was highlighted to Members that it was important to work with a range of partners, inside and outside of the District, in order to provide wide ranging activities and to help deliver the Leisure and Culture Strategy outcomes.

·       Whether there was the potential to keep the ‘Bromsgrove Pound’ in the District. For example, the use of the sailing facilities in Upton Warren were commented on and Members questioned whether there would be more financial benefit by utilising the sailing club at Barnt Green which was located within the District. The importance of the Leisure Strategy was again referred to and in particular the need for communities to shape their ambitions. Members were encouraged to contact community leaders to understand how best to carve out ambition and to see what their needs were alongside the strategy.

·       Whether the Street Theatre events that had taken place previously would return. Council was informed that Members could engage with their residents to understand if there was an appetite for these kinds of events or whether the funds would be better utilised for other events.  It was noted that, as part of the Bromsgrove Centres Strategy, which had been approved in January 2023, improvedjoined up working would be undertaken in the future and that Members could contact the Bromsgrove Centres Manager for further information and potential plans for the future.

·       The establishment of Walking Football and Couch to 5k in Hagley. Members congratulated the Portfolio Holder for providing the residents with these activities and commented that it had been welcomed by the residents. However, Members questioned how the short breaks for young people with disabilities had beenallocated. Members were advised that Officers would be asked to obtain further information on this subject.

·       Section 106 funding and how it was allocated. Members were keen to understand how Section 106 funding was allocated and it was mentioned that in recent housing developments it appearedthat the monies had already been allocated with little consultation. It was reiterated to Members that they played a key part in the communities they represented and that they could provide information in this area. It was also hoped that the capital plan for enhancing parks and open spaces, as outlined in the Portfolio Holder’s report, would provide a more strategic approach to the use of Section 106 and other funding. It was suggested by some Members that there was a need for the redevelopment of parks and open spaces in and around the Town Centre and Members were encouraged to speak to Officers regarding this matter.

·       Meetings of The Artrix Holding Trust. It was highlighted that there had been a limited numbers of meetings during the 2022/23 municipal year. Members were advised that whilst there was Officer led support given to the Holding Trust, ultimately it was the Holding Trust who had responsibility under the Trust Deed for determining its future. It was explained that Members and representatives from Heart of Worcestershire (HoW) College who sat on the Trust were due to meet in February 2023; in order to consider the work that had been carried out by external consultants on the future viability of the site. Members understood that there would inevitably be local interest in the Artrix, but the Council could not interfere at this stage of the process.  It was confirmed that the Artrix Holding Trust must be allowed to carry out their duties and provide a mandate for moving forward.

·       The self-management of allotments. There were some queries as to whether the pilot would result in the Council not carrying out its obligations in respect of allotments. However, it was confirmed that this plan would be designed in the hope that those using the allotments would be able to have more control over their own future.

·       The suggestion that there needed to be more varied cultural event opportunities within the District that were targeted at specific demographics, particularly older people who lived in Bromsgrove District.


Following a detailed debate, the Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Cultural Services and Climate Change presented the annual update on the Climate Change service area.


Council was informed that Bromsgrove District Council had declared a Climate Change Emergency in 2019 and that as a result of this the Carbon Reduction Strategy wasintroduced in October 2022. It was reported that the delay in the introduction of the Strategy had been due to the Covid-19 pandemic and as it was important to ensure that the plan was robust and effective. Members were advised that included in the Strategy was an aim to achieve a 50% reduction in carbon dioxide by 2023 and net zero by 2040.


Reference was made to the key activities included within the report. These included the Salix grant funding received in order to install low carbon heating and PV solar panels at The Artrix. In addition to this, further information was provided on the introduction of solar panels at Parkside, the purchase of green energy for the Council, the Green Fair that had taken place in Sanders Park and the use of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) in the Council’s diesel fleet. It was explained that the use of HVO was a measure that had been implemented as work was currently being undertaken in respect of replacing the Council’s fleet with electric or hydrogen vehicles. It was noted that this would be costly, and that further investigation in this emerging market was needed in order to ensure the Council was making the most appropriate choice when replacing the fleet.


In terms of the key milestones for the next period, Members were informed that the Council would look to support Bromsgrove District Housing Trust (BDHT) in applying for funding to improve the efficiency of housing stock and to set up a rolling programme of works to improve energy efficiency in Council buildings with the highest consumption.


Members were advised that additional staffing resource was required in this area and that the Council would be looking to recruit a Senior Climate Change Officer in February 2023 and a Graduate Climate Change Officer during 2023. The Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Cultural Services and Climate Change extended his thanks to Mr. A. Pearson from West Midlands Net Zero Hub, who had provided support in the development of the Council’s Carbon Reduction Plan.


Following the presentation of the Climate Change section of the report, Members discussed the following points in detail:


·       Strategic purposes aligned to Climate Change. Within the report it stated that the current strategic purpose aligned to Climate Change was that of ‘Communities that are safe, well maintained and green’. However, it was suggested that it might not be the most appropriate strategic purpose in relation to Climate Change. Instead, it was suggested that an additional strategic purpose potentially could be added which included reference to carbon neutrality. This was noted as something that could be looked at in the future.

·       Achieving a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. Members queried whether this would be achievable as stated within the report. Council was informed that it was difficult to ascertain during such a turbulent period including a cost of living crisis, the war in Ukraine and the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic whether the target would still be achievable.  However, it was what the strategy aimed to achieve.

·       The use of HVO in the Council’s fleet. Members queried how the estimated carbon saving of 530C02 through the use of HVO had been calculated. Officers undertook to provide this information and circulate it to Members.

·       Supporting BDHT in their applications for funding. Members queried what support was provided for BDHT in retrofitting public and private sector housing, particularly when looking at EPC ratings in these sectors. It was explained that there were limited powers in this area, however, partnership working with BDHT was a key milestone and had been included in the strategy as an action for the future.


Following the detailed discussion some Members expressed their views that they were pleased to hear the successes and hoped that residents would support the Carbon Reduction Strategy. It was noted, however, that there could be some further work in promoting the initiatives on the website and through social media campaigns.


RESOLVED that the report be noted.


Supporting documents: