It’s worth noting that there are currently no Public Health commissioned physical activity programmes in the borough.
In terms of mainstream sport and leisure provision, Bexley has 3 leisure centres operated on the Council’s behalf by Parkwood Leisure, under a Leisure PPP contract running to 2035. There are over 2m visits to leisure centres each year, with significant demand for swimming (particularly from clubs, learn to swim programmes and public swimming).
The Leisure Team has a dedicated Active for Health team that focuses on promoting physical activity and the benefits to long term health conditions and the whole population benefits of an active population.
Bexley is currently refreshing its main strategy documents in this area including:
- Growth Strategy,
- Outdoor Strategy (open spaces)
- Playing Pitch strategy,
- Facilities Planning Model (Indoor leisure facilities)
- Physical Activity Strategy
This will provide the direction and focus for physical activity in the coming years.
Bexley has a range of outdoor places for sport and physical activity. There are over 100,000 people taking part in organised outdoor recreation including football, rugby, bowls and tennis at council run sites. A drop off in adult football and cricket participation locally has followed the national trend and we have seen an in increase in demand for more easy to access activities such as Parkrun, personal training and boot camps recently.
The recent appointment of a Cycling Development officer (a joint appointment with the Planning team) will give a strong focus to active travel across the borough, as well as the promotion of cycling.
Traditionally, Bexley has had a strong club network, particularly with dance groups and outdoor sports organisations.
Bexley also has a strong network of sports focused volunteers with over 1,300 regular volunteers (for example at London Youth Games, Parkrun and local physical activity roadshows)
As outlined, there is limited local evidence available to provide a detailed understanding as to the physical activity levels of young people since the PE and School Sports Survey nearly a decade ago. The changes to the national curriculum suggest that time allocated for Physical Education will not have increased, and in many cases will have decreased. That said, the government have created additional funding through the PE and Sport Premium (primary) with the aim of enabling schools to make additional and sustainable improvements to the quality of PE and sport teaching and learning and to assist them in developing their PE and sport activities that schools already offer and by building capacity and capability within the school to ensure that improvements made now will benefit pupils joining the school in future years. The local authority is working directly with 15 schools to support them with this work.
There are significant assets across Bexley, from extensive green and blue networks to a range of community buildings and spaces for sports. Notable infrastructure includes nearly 1600 acres of parks and open spaces with provision for both formalised sport and informal activity three high quality leisure centres. It is, however, recognised there areas of deficiency also exist; the quality of some facilities varies and connectivity and accessibility is not always simple. It is essential that local decisions don’t become “unintended consequences” and local policies do not become barriers for those areas and those groups of people who are known to be less active. This is particularly important in terms of the design of local places to ensure that we are able to encourage more people to build activity in their daily lives through Active Travel for example, and to ensure that creating an Active Bexley becomes embedded across the whole system.