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Highland Community, Sports, And Leisure Facility Strategy

5th December 2023

A strategy which proposes a two-stage approach towards the development of vibrant community hubs in partnership with High Life Highland and sportscotland was agreed at the Council's Education Committee.

The report set out the principles for investment over the long-term and the next steps to develop individual plans for each of the Council's 29 associated school group (ASG) areas.

Cllr John Finlayson, Chair of the Council's Education Committee said: "There is a need for investment in high quality and affordable community, sports and leisure facilities right across Highland. The Council's vision is to bring as many services as possible together which will look to improve the quality of life for people and communities. Our schools are in a good location to be accessible by many in their areas and so, by integrating key community and sport facilities with our schools, we can make sure that we can continue to deliver services and better plan for the future in a more strategic and well understood way. It is important for The Highland Council to work closely and in partnership with local communities who are ambitious for their residents and also sportscotland and High Life Highland to ensure we get the best for the vast rural authority we live in."

Douglas Wilby, Director of Corporate Performance for High Life Highland said: "There are many benefits to integrating school and community leisure and library facilities. The co-location of these services will create vibrant community hubs which will support the health of the communities themselves as well as the individuals who use them. There are also financial benefits to this approach as capital and revenue savings can be achieved by sharing our properties and resources."

Forbes Dunlop, Chief Executive of sportscotland, noted to committee members some of the key messages from his discussions with local authorities across Scotland. Local authorities understand the importance of sport and physical activity but there was recognition of the fact that there needs to be rationalisation in the future and the co-location of services is an option being discussed, with Highland being the first to bring forward a proposal for Member consideration.

He said: "Local authorities are facing significant financial pressures and competing priorities and it is clear that changes do need to take place to ensure that clubs and communities have continued access to sport and physical activity. The school estate has a role to play as part of the wider strategic move to co-locating services, not only as a facility but as an environment to nurture sport and community, and to reduce inequalities. Through the Active Schools network, sportscotland remains committed to working in partnership with schools across Scotland recognising the critical role the network plays in giving young people confidence and competence to be physically active now and well into their future."

Link to report can be found at
https://www.highland.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/4887/education_committee

Webcast of the discussion can be viewed on the Council's website -
https://highland.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/716532/start_time/8622000

 

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