Red Tape Review for Sports Clubs

“Sports Minister wants ‘bonfire of costly bureaucracy’ to help increase participation.”

Well nobody could sensibly disagree with that could they? Of course not and the wish to create a bonfire from regulation is always the easiest headline you can get as a Minister. I don’t blame Hugh. He has had a difficult few weeks mainly announcing bad news for sport – the abolition of free swimming, cuts from Health to CSPs etc.

The last few days have been better though. There i some wishful thinking as I mentioned in my blog about TV rights money coming into grassroots. But our Sports Minister understands sport. He is not an ideologue – that pressure comes from elsewhere. There are tough times ahead financially for sports so some help with red tape will help ease the burden on volunteers. My main concern is raising expectations though. Nobody puts burdens on for fun and yet removing them is always harder than you think.

UKSport & Sport England to be Merged

So Jeremy Hunt the SoS for DCMS has gone further than feared today and announced that Sport England and UKSport will now ‘merge’ in plans set out in Parliament today.

When I was writing our manifesto on sport we looked at merger. At a very simple level it looks attractive. But like so much of life it isn’t quite that easy.

We therefore proposed much closer cooperation and working with reduced back office costs and relocation of services out of London. But we stopped short of merger for 2 simple reasons. First the case was not made for an all under one roof miracle for sport. I will explain more at some later stage. Second we didn’t want to distract the work of UKSport in delivering a record medal haul in 2012. UKSport has delivered and needs the same no compromise approach to winning in 2012.

More Cash from TV for Grassroots Sport?

The CCPR has been asked by Sports Minister Hugh Robertson to review its voluntary code on broadcasting – which sees up to 5% of revenue from TV Rights going into grassroots sport. (CCPR News)

The coalition government will be keen to have some good news on the funding front at the moment and surely this will be a winner with grassroots sport. The announcement was made as Hugh at the same time killed off the Davies review of Listed Events. This can be seen as the trade off. We leave your TV revenues alone – but now prove you need the money for the grassroots of your sport. I am sure there are many sports that have no worries on this front. But the big battle will be with the Premier League in football. Apart from those who love money above football there can’t be many who think the Premier League should put more into the game it says it loves and promotes.

Hugh has set a high ambition of 30% of revenues going back into the grassroots. I bet the ECB can demonstrate it achieves this. I bet the Premier League cannot. Don’t expect the football world and the FA to be saved any day soon by a 30% windfall from the SKY deals with the Premier League. They will fight this tooth and nail. I bet they end up nearer 8% and a fudge to determining what counts as community or grassroots sport.

Watch this space. And good luck to the CCPR who have been given this job.

Andy Reed Awarded Arthur Bell Trophy at St James’s Palace

Andy Reed was awarded the CCPRs Arthur Bell Trophy today for outstanding contribution to Community Sport at their AGM held at St James’s Palace. The trophy was presented by Prince Edward to Andy Reed.

Andy received the annual award for his contribution to Community Sport during his time as MP for Loughborough.

“I didn’t think I was a big fan of awards and certainly not at this stage in my contribution to sport. I do hope at 45 I have a few more years to give. However, I was truly humbled to have been nominated and to receive the award at the CCPRs AGM.

Than Shwe – Unmasking Burma’s Tyrant

I was humbled to be at the launch of this book by Ben Rogers – Than Shwe – unmasking Burma’s Tyrant at the House of Commons last night.

Burma remains one of the most tyrannical regimes in the world with human rights abuses and torture a daily occurrence. Yet Than Shwe is not a notorious household name. He deserves to be.

Ben Rogers has risked his life many times to write this book. It deserves a read by anybody who cares about freedom for our fellow global neighbours. Burma is a country we need to free from tyranny. We met people who have been tortured and family members of political prisoners. It is very humbling and emotional. You cannot help but feel you need to do more.

There are so many places we need to work to prevent these tyrants. The humble Ben Rogers helps us get inside the mind and life story of this one. Please read and be moved. But as Ben said last night – be moved enough to want to do something about the situation.

NHS Gamble on GPs

The proposed ‘reforms’ of the NHS announced today are worthy of considerable political comment elsewhere. I must admit I am surprised anybody thinks the NHS needs another radical ‘reform’ at the moment. For anybody expecting the Lib Dems to slow down the ideological shift to the right under a Tory government I think today and many other recent announcements blow away any such hope. This is full on Thatcherism. If you are involved in any aspect of the public sector I would hold onto your hat – we are on a roller coaster ride for the next 4 years.

However, there is one interesting area that will probably be overlooked. This is the new role for local authorities in delivering public health. I heard this rumour last Friday and have mixed feelings. In theory there is a massive role for local authorities. After all the greatest advances in health took place because of municipal water improvements. In some areas they will be well placed to deliver. But combined with the news that the Food Standards Agency is about to be scrapped I fear this is not about great empowerment and a drive for public health. What will small local authorities across the country be able to say to the massive food producers. Where will the national anti-salt campaigns come from. How will local authorities pressurize these multinationals to reduce salt, sugar and fats? It just won’t happen will it?

In terms of my area of interest – physical activity – the jury will still be out. PCTs had not all quite got round to the physical activity agenda. But the same is true of local authorities. I am lucky in Leicestershire that some Chief Officers really do get it. But many more don’t get leisure and sport at all. We are going to have an uphill battle to convince local politicians and local government bosses that physical activity is not a soft option to be cut to save other so-called front-line services.

This is all a massive gamble.

Spain Deserved to Win – But What About England?

Spain deserved to win the world cup last night. They were the better team and withstood attempts to kick them off the park from the Dutch. Even that couldn’t fully stop them playing their passing game.

But now attention should surely turn to the dismal performance put up by England and our overpaid stars. But I fear nothing will change. The FA is weak and useless. There is no way it will change as there are far too many vested interests preventing the change that is required. And the elephant in the room is the Premier League. It is the tail that wags the dog in English football. We will be sold how this is the greatest League in the world. Who believes that rubbish now?