Page 1


2011 2012


Chair’s Report......................................................................... Page 1 Chief Executives Report.......................................................... Page 3 Business Development............................................................ Page 5 Blyth Sports Centre................................................................. Page 7 Concordia Leisure Centre........................................................ Page 10 Sporting Club Blyth.................................................................. Page 13 Sporting Club Cramlington...................................................... Page 14 Health and Fitness.................................................................... Page 15 Leisure Development and Inclusion Service........................... Page 17 Arts Development.................................................................... Page 21 Wansbeck...............................................................................

Page 24

Auditor’s Report......................................................................

Page 26

Chair’s Report delivery of the service. Obviously this is causing a great deal of uncertainty and hopefully the process can be sorted out quickly and a decision made to protect local jobs and delivery of services.

In reflecting on this year I am reminded of the many similarities to last year. The economic situation has not improved people are struggling in uncertain times. The year for BVAL has been characterised by change and uncertainty yet again. Fortunately the staff and Board Members have risen to these challenges presented with typical endeavour and a determination to improve standards, whilst looking to work in flexible and innovative ways. There have been a number of changes planned by the County Council which will affect our delivery next year. Arts development will be delivered through Queens Hall Hexham with BVAL as a partner but not the main provider as in the past. We must wait and see how this new arrangement works and the effect on delivery. The Council has restarted the Leisure Review and at some point next year will consider new unified management arrangements for the

The review will place greater strain on our services as the Council will seek to make significant savings. This process is running at a time when the economic downturn is being felt particularly harshly in the North East and those people in the greatest need of our services are the ones most likely to be hit by the funding cuts. One piece of good news has been the awarding of a £300,000 grant for the continuation of the Sports Development Service. It is a shame that this valued service has to lurch periodically from funding crisis to funding crisis and it is a testament to the dedication of the staff that they continue to deliver high quality services. All of our developmental services are important in addressing such issues as low educational aspiration, social exclusion and health inequalities which are still prevalent in this area even well into the 21st century. Catering has also been hit by the recession and the lack of disposable income in the area and we have reviewed the whole operation reducing costs to match reduced demand. It is pleasing to see that the performance of the centres mainly through strong membership levels has held up through these difficult times. Let us hope this continues into next year and is bolstered by any “Olympic effect” Our community and school facilities are continuing to provide added value to the main “contract Page 1

Chair’s Report services” at no extra cost to the Council As town and community councils have grown more opportunities have developed and BVAL is working with a number in managing playgrounds and delivering holiday and after school activities Last year the merger plans with North Country Leisure had been put on hold. This year however we have agreed to start exploratory talks as the Leisure Review starts. This is felt to be a prudent course of action by the Board as one of the main outcomes sought by the Council through the review is to unify management arrangements. More detail on this will come out next year as the review progresses.

grant finding processes. Both facilities are set to make a big improvement in the sporting opportunities in the area. Next year hopefully the leisure review will be concluded and BVAL can get on with managing the services and bringing new facilities on line. Once again it has been a pleasure to work with colleagues on the board and the staff of BVAL and I would like to thank everyone for their efforts particularly in this difficult year

Benefits of a more integrated health development approach have been seen across the county with a standardisation of approach and quality. This has allowed proper comparison and assessment, providing good feedback to the health service. This has been provided by BVAL staff overseeing the schemes and working in different locations across the south east of the County. The benefit of BVAL’s integrated approach to leisure can be dramatically seen in the major capital projects that have been delivered. Two of these major sites have come on stream this year. Firstly the new athletics facility a King Edward High School and secondly the new 3G astro turf pitch at Blyth Community College. Both these projects cost over £800,000 and brought in a high level of external funding. They would not have been delivered had not BVAL managed the development and Page 2

Chief Executive’s Report and the Community in meeting some of their aspirations. Throughout the organisation there have been significant developments both physical and organisational. All our main sites and Sports Development have been QUEST accredited. Sports Development achieved ‘Excellent’ and the Centres scored ‘Good’ under a revised, more rigorous scheme.

BVAL has continued to perform strongly in uncertain times both economically and organisationally. This area has been particularly affected by the poor shape of the economy and the local authority being forced into making severe cuts. It is pleasing to see that our use and memberships have stayed strong during these times. We face an uncertain future as the Council has given notice through its leisure review that it will be tendering next year for all its leisure facilities. It is important particularly at this time that our performance remains strong and the quality service to our customers is maintained. With this in mind I’d like to thank the Staff, Management and Board for their commitment and support this year through all elements of our organisation. Working together we have again achieved our objectives and supported both the Council

The ‘good’ band now covers a much wider score and the centres are placed well within the top quartile of scores. It was pleasing that the elements of “Business Planning”, “Contribution to Wellbeing” and “Fitness Suite Management” scored ‘Excellent’ across the sites. This can give us confidence that an overall ‘excellent’ score can be achieved next time. The ‘Excellent’ Quest score for Sports Development is very pleasing and a testament to the commitment of the staff, especially since the assessment was carried out when the future of the bulk of the team was uncertain. That uncertainty has now been removed with the award of a £300,000 BLF grant secured by the team. This along with a number of other smaller awards gives certainty for another 3 years. There have been a number of changes in the centres with some minor alterations at Concordia and Blyth improving the quality of the buildings. More importantly there has been the appointment of 4 new Assistant Managers across the sites. These positions replace the previous posts of 6 Supervisors and will add to the management strength of the centres.

Page 3

Chief Executive’s Report The opening of the new 3G pitch at the Sporting Club of Blyth is a valuable asset for the community and has attracted community clubs as partner organisations. The performance of our fitness classes and gyms has maintained and grown in certain areas despite the economic climate. This, along with the improved swimming use at Concordia, continues to be our main income generator. Some of the new areas we are investing in are the use of social media for marketing purposes with some pleasing results. We are also engaging with town councils to provide a range of services and support for these new organisations. The challenges of increasing income, reducing cost whilst maintaining quality, providing a community leisure service and improving health will only increase in the short term as the economic downturn deepens and the squeeze of public finances tightens. We have to make sure that BVAL is up to those challenges and continues to enjoy the local community support.

Page 4

Business Development General 2011-2012 has been a challenging year for the Business Development team due to almost a year of absence due to maternity leave and a change in personnel in the finance department due to retirement. As such, the main area of focus has been on the development of marketing in the organisation, enabling all service areas within bval to improve their engagement and communication with customers and stakeholders.

Development of consistent standards of design and presentation across all departments. Effective use and development of ‘ISSUU’ to publish leaflets and information on the website - including the development of a ‘virtual’ newsletter for the Arts Develpoment team (Art e Facts) Working with the Leisure Inclusion team to try to design and produce all the holiday activity programmes in-house - with the intention of making big savings.


Additional Support

The marketing team has spent time focusing on:

Throughout the year the unit has continued to play a supportive role in providing administrative, financial and marketing support to a variety of projects and developments for:





Effective use of TV screens for internal promotions and information. ‘Slides’ are created using the photos from the photo library and film clips are also used. Use of social media tools including BVALs facebook page and facebook pages for Concordia and Blyth Sports Centre. Use of Youtube to communicate directly with customers using film clips of classes, swimming etc. Creation of an up to date library of photographs and video clips for promotional use. An annual advertising




Concordia Leisure Centre Blyth Sports Centre Arts Development Northburn Sports and Community Centre Pegasus Sporting Club Blyth Sporting Club Cramlington Ashington Leisure Centre Newbiggin Sports and Community Centre Sports Development The Dave Stephens Centre Beach Huts The year ahead The year ahead looks challenging. However, a number of exciting projects are planned for 2012/2013.

Page 5

Business Development Projects/developments for the coming year include: The rebranding of the company logo Development of a new responsive website compatible for mobile devices. Development of an e-newsletter for customers Development of a new company intranet site for staff. Building on social media to communicate/ interact with customers eg Twitter

Page 6

Blyth Sports Centre General Despite the difficult economic climate, Blyth Sports Centre has continued to maintain high levels of usage – impressive considering its location in a poor socio economic area. Lifestyle membership remains consistently high and the number of members has been maintained since the refurbished gym reopened and exceeded its targets. A latent demand report was commissioned to look at the possibility of a super gym. Results indicated that the gym was operating at capacity, with very little room for growth. The brand new Studio 3 has been in operation now for a full year and has helped boost the Exercise to Music usage considerably. The new Soft Play Area, ‘Little Squirrels’ has proved extremely popular and has dramatically increased usage for under 5’s. The hard work and effort that all the staff at Blyth Sports Centre have maintained was rewarded with a Quest assessment that highlighted the centre achieving excellence in many areas of its operation.

Quest December saw the Centre reassessed under the new Quest criteria and the hard work of the team ensured that the Centre fell into the “Good” band.

With significantly revised assessment criteria, the Quest scheme focussed mainly on outcomes and the methodology used to achieve these outcomes. A major change was the Health and Safety declaration which the centre had to address otherwise it would not achieve Quest Status. Prior to the assessment, a great deal of work was undertaken to examine the whole Health and Safety system of bval, resulting in a new policy and a new safety culture which was communicated to all the staff. Areas that were highlighted as excellent were; business planning, FIA code of Practice, Contribution to Health and Wellbeing and Fitness Suite Management. As part of the new Quest process, the Quest administrators must benchmark all assessed centres. At the time of assessment, Blyth was ranked 8th nationally out of the 250 Centres that had been assessed to that point in time. Interestingly, nearly 20% of centres failed the Health and Safety declaration. The result of the Quest Assessment was, and continues to be, a fantastic achievement by the centre and is certainly something to be proud of.

Swimming Swimming has been in decline nationally over the last few years and this has been evident in recent times at Blyth Sports Centre. Page7

Blyth Sports Centre Encouragingly, this year’s usage figures are comparable with last year, despite the local competition of the refurbished pool at Concordia and the continued economic downturn. Usage in the pool spa also remained steady, both from lifestyle members and paying customers. The swimming development scheme still remains strong and the centre is currently looking to develop this even further in the next financial year. The centre once again participated in the British Gas swim promotion, which offered British Gas customers a free family swim at their local pool, although take up on this was not as great as in previous years.

Staff The restructure of the Supervisory group was finalised this year and new Assistant Managers and Senior Leisure Attendants were appointed. Successful candidates for the Assistant Manager roles included two former bval Leisure Development staff. Out of the three new Senior Leisure Attendants who were appointed, two came from Concordia and one from Blyth. The first six months has seen the new structure in operation with all new staff settling well into their new roles. The next year should see the centre move forward as each develops their own areas of responsibilities.

Soft Play Development

The refurbishment of the soft play area took place in the summer, with the whole area stripped out and a brand new structure built. The new softplay incorporated a two level structure and allowed us to increase the age limit from 5 to 7 years of age. The addition of new flooring and seating, along with a small serving area for drinks completed the transformation. The new facility was named ‘Little Squirrels’ and opened with a free taster session day, which saw over 200 children try out the new area and meet Woody the Squirrel, the fun mascot character relating to the woodland theme. Since opening in October, the area has seen an additional 10,000 visits to date, spanning across both casual visits and increased party bookings. The decision to staff the area in the first instance also reaped dividends for the catering company as any income taken through the sale of drinks was put straight into the catering operation.

Building Development In addition to the redevelopment of the soft play area, the opportunity was taken to relocate the management and administration offices. A new management suite was designed and built in the old family room area. One large open administration office containing two management offices was also developed, and saw the relocation of the Chief Executive and his PA from Page 8

Blyth Sports Centre Concordia to Blyth, along with the new HR Manager and the Arts Development Officer.

year to reduce thermal loss through walls and ceilings.

The new offices allowed the Leisure Development team to take residence in the old offices after they were moved from the Council Offices in Cramlington. This move has improved communications and involvement with the Leisure Development team.

The BEMS control system was removed from Seaton Delaval Offices to Concordia, with Blyth having a link installed in order that access to the system can be achieved. Hopefully, this will allow increased local awareness of energy management issues.

The development of the new office accommodation also gave the opportunity to purchase air conditioning for Studio 3 and customers attending Studio Cycling have enjoyed the benefits of the cooler studio.


Energy and Plant The CHP continues to make savings on our energy costs as well as the environment. The centre put forward energy savings ideas and costs for Salix Funding and was awarded the funding to replace old and inefficient lighting with new energy efficient lights and controls. Work is currently being undertaken to finalise the scheme before the work is tendered. The second scheme, to replace the inefficient wetside air handling units, did not receive the funding despite the energy savings available over a 5 year period. Northumberland County Council also considering the centre as a site for installing Solar PV and it is expected that this work may go ahead within the next financial year.

The Centre continued to embrace new technology in an attempt to improve usage and the overall customer experience. The introduction of self –serve kiosks in the reception area were designed to fast track Lifestyle Members into the Centre, whilst also providing a quick and easy booking and payment point for cardholders. Whilst in the early stages of operation, it is hoped that the kiosks will remove excessive queuing at reception at busy times.

Looking Forward There is no doubt that the forthcoming year will once again be a year of challenge as the economic climate shows no sign of improving and the outcome of the Leisure Review by Northumberland County Council will be known. It is hoped, though, that the excellent result achieved through Quest will allow the centre to continually improve and drive on to continue to offer its customers an excellent facility.

Cavity wall insulation and loft insulation into ceiling voids was also completed this Page 9

Concordia Leisure Centre General Although the economic climate has not improved over the last year we have managed to maintain usage in most areas and increase it in some others. Softplay has taken the biggest hit on numbers, but swimming has increased massively along with smaller increases in Direct Debit members and fitness class usage. It has been a challenging year and everyone has worked hard to maintain a level of service that exceeds our customers’ expectations, and even in the light of limited expenditure, income has increased at the centre. Our Facebook page has now exceeded 500 ‘likes’ and is becoming increasingly more important as a communication network to our customers. Another customer benefit this year has been the installation of self-service kiosks which also takes the pressure away from reception allowing them time to deal with other enquiries.

Swimming The pool reopened on the 09 April 2011 after an extensive refurbishment which involved lining the pool, painting fantastic images on the bottom of the pool, the covering of the poolside and the installation of interactive water features. The response and feedback to the work undertaken has been fantastic and swimming numbers have increased by around 30,000 compared with last year - pushing past 95,000. We have now installed further water features around the lagoon area that cater for smaller children

and children with limited ability. This refurbishment has definitely put Concordia’s pool back on the map and allowed it to compete again with all local competition.

Quest December saw the reassessment of our Quest award. The scheme has been significantly changed since our last assessment. Scores are no longer given, and instead, centres are placed in ‘bands.’ Concordia fell in to the ‘Good’ band which for comparison purposes is what we expected and means we must have made some improvement over the last 2 years. It is hard to judge how far we have come due to not now receiving a percentage score as we have in the past. It is thanks to all the staff’s efforts that we are still a continuously developing centre going forward in the right direction.

Town Council Collaborations Accommodating Cramlington Town Council (CTC) has proved successful and working relationships have grown to the benefit of BVAL. This year saw the first 12 months of bval completing playground inspections, SLA and assisting in a playground refurbishment scheme. This SLA will continue in to 2012/13 and further partnership work will develop e.g. Jubilee celebrations. An SLA has also now been negotiated for the Seaton Valley Council (SVC) playground inspections and this will begin in April 2012. Page 10

Concordia Leisure Centre Staffing The Supervisory restructure took place as planned this year and the new Assistant Managers started in post on the 05 September. One post was filled by an applicant from our own leisure Development department and the other post was filled by an external applicant. The Assistant Managers are now in settled shift patterns and we hope to see them develop their areas of responsibilities and drive the centre forward over the next twelve months. Of the three Supervisor posts that were made redundant, two remain at Concordia as Senior Leisure Attendants (SLA’s) and one has moved across to Blyth Sports Centre to take up a SLA role there. New rotas for the SLA’s and Leisure Attendants have been put in place. To coincide with the introduction of the selfserve kiosks when one receptionist left, a small restructure of hours and rotas took place in agreement with the remaining six receptionists. This will also help contribute towards necessary savings.

Energy Savings The CHP continues to make savings on our energy costs as well as being more friendly to the environment. The building energy rating also improved again this year and although still in category D, it is only two points away from C. Solar PV panels have been investigated this year and it is still undecided by the County Council whether or not some panels will be mounted on Concordia’s roof. This would be beneficial to Concordia as we may be able to tap into some free

electricity and it helps evidence our green and sustainability policies as a company. Cavity wall and loft insulation took place in the early part of the year, funded via the SALIX scheme, so this again should help towards our buildings energy efficiency rating. The BEMS controls were bought on site towards the end of the year and it is hoped now that we have greater control we will be able generate some more efficiencies.

Events The most notable events were the pool re-opening, the Pirate Day and the third annual Christmas Comedy Night, held once again on the bowls green and proving to be a great success. In the lead up to the re-opening of the pool, we held a competition for children to design a poster advertising the pool. Three winners in three different age categories had a VIP day which included the honour of being the first customers to try the pool. The grand re-opening included a morning of free swimming with councillors and board members in attendance alongside the winners. Needless to say, the pool was full and customers left delighted with the new features and keen to return. The Pirate Day was free and in partnership with Manor Walks and CTC. The grass out the front of Concordia was transformed with a beach area, fairground rides, a central activity area, including beach volleyball, a fancy dress competition and more. The event was very well received and we will be looking to recreate it in the coming year. Page 11

Concordia Leisure Centre Looking Forward... Next year Concordia Leisure Centre looks forward to further challenges including the development of the various new roles, the outcome of the Leisure Review and the on-going review visit by Quest. We will strive to carry on providing the best service possible to keep the centre as one of the main attractions in the area and look to invest wisely so as to add that little extra for our customers.

Page 12

Sporting Club Blyth This year saw the realisation of a number of years of planning as work finally started on building the new 3G synthetic pitch, complete with floodlights at the Sporting Club Blyth. The facility was finally opened in November by former Newcastle United footballer Paul Bracewell, to excellent press coverage. BVAL entered into a partnership agreement with three local junior football clubs: Blyth Rangers, Blyth Town and Blyth Spartans, all three clubs will benefit greatly from the development of young footballers by the state of the art training facilities that have been made available in the area.

and, although gym and class usage has remained at previous year’s levels, usage has not increased in line with expectations. The lack of lighting in the car park for much of the winter caused by the cutting of a power cable did not help encourage new users to the facility, although temporary lighting solutions were sourced by the staff. It is hoped that the first full year of operation with the 3G pitch will galvanise the facility and that that the facility will attract new users as a result of the facility being open or that parents can be converted from spectators to users.

It was also agreed that Blyth Rangers would make the Sporting Club their home base and they have utilised any spare time on the 3G to great effect. The 3G pitch is predominantly for club usage and the policy of the Centre is to attract as many local clubs as possible to use the facility, with clubs from Bedlington and Cramlington regularly using the pitch for their junior sections. The development of the 3G pitch also provided the opportunity to improve the quality of the grass pitches on the site with levelling of one pitch and new drainage for all grass pitches being laid during the summer. These pitches are due to come back into operation in September 2012 and it is anticipated that BVAL will manage the bookings for the pitches once the drainage has settled. Due to its location within the town, Sporting Club Blyth has suffered from the continued problems with the economy Page 13

Sporting Club Cramlington Sporting Club Cramlington The Sporting Club has continued the success of the previous year and improved its membership numbers and its Direct Debit income month on month compared to the previous year. Gym and fitness class attendance has again achieved an all-time high since opening. Other areas of usage have struggled yet income is still up.

will have a massive effect on the numbers using the facility which in turn will hopefully boost other activities available.

The Sporting Club underwent its Quest re-assessment in December and was banded as ‘Good’. Again the progress and improvements at the SCC are thanks to everyone’s hard work and commitment to continually try to take the centre forward. The school converted to an academy in September and the management agreement is yet again under review and will need to be re-signed. The relationship between SCC and CLV remains strong and we are working together to look in to the feasibility of upgrading the current astro turf to a new state of the art 3G pitch. The installation of a barrier system to stop unauthorised vehicles driving down to the disabled bays went ahead. The system can be operated via the Supervisors mobile phone and has been a great success especially in regards to the safety of customers, particularly children. The Sporting Club will strive to continue in its success of improving usage and members over the next twelve months, which may prove difficult as there is yet to be a change in the current economic climate. We look forward to the possible development of the astro turf pitch which Page 14

Health and Fitness General

more than 94,250 during the year.

During 2011-12, the Health and Fitness Service has continued to provide innovative services and build on previous successes. In challenging times, the service is working hard to ensure that customers are offered high quality opportunities to take part in a wide range of physical activity options. Quest assessments at Blyth Sports Centre and Concordia Leisure Centre rated both ‘Contribution to Wellbeing’ and ‘Fitness Suites’ as excellent. The service is responsible for the management of health and fitness at the four BVAL sites,Ashington Leisure Centre and Newbiggin Sports and Community Centre. It also has a shared management arrangement for the delivery of health projects with North Country Leisure in other areas of Northumberland.

Although participation in Zumba itself has now levelled off, numbers attending other classes have also risen. Sessions are continually monitored to ensure that the programme reflects customer demand.

Lifestyle Gyms The six Lifestyle gyms continue to perform strongly, withover 183,500 gym sessions being undertaken by participants (an increase of 19,500 from the previous year). The BVAL sites have high quality Precor equipment, with the Fitlinxx IT system available in three of the four gyms; whilst in Ashington and Newbiggin there is Technogym equipment with the Wellness IT system. The plans to build a new leisure centre mean that there are currently no plans to refurbish the Ashington gym, despite the equipment now being 8 years old. Lifestyle Fitness Class Programme The ‘Zumba Effect’ has continued, with participation in fitness classes rising to

Lifestyle Membership Scheme The Lifestyle membership scheme offers the opportunity for users to purchase a package allowing unlimited use of fitness facilities at the centres. The memberships are multi site, with cheaper single site options for the smaller sites, which do not have swimming pools. The single site option has been successful in encouraging membership at the smaller sites, particularly at the Sporting Club of Cramlington and Newbiggin Sports and Community Centre. Membership levels have performed well over the year, with cross site membership being maintained at over 3000 throughout the year. GP Exercise on Referral Scheme BVAL manages the GP exercise on referral scheme in Ashington, Blyth, Cramlington,Morpeth and Newbiggin. The scheme is commissioned by the NHS and continues to go from strength to strength, making a real difference to the lives of many of its participants. There were 1278 referrals to the scheme in these areas during the year against a commissioned target of 1,020 referrals. Participants in exercise on referral and associated exit routes attended more than 39,950 physical activity sessions during the year. Page 15

Health and Fitness Partnership working with North County Leisure Trust means that exercise on referral has become much more standardised across Northumberland. Community Based Cardiac Rehabilitation BVAL continues to work in partnership with Northumbria Foundation Trust to deliver Phase III community cardiac rehabilitation. Phase III is staffed by both a cardiac rehabilitation nurse and fitness staff, and involves twice weekly supervised exercise sessions and weekly education / advice sessions at each venue. Current venues are Blyth Sports Centre, Concordia Leisure Centre, Morpeth Riverside Centre and Ashington Leisure Centre. BVAL also offers Phase IV cardiac rehabilitation in Ashington, Blyth, Cramlington, Morpeth and Newbiggin. These sessions encourage participants to make physical activity a life long lifestyle choice. There is also a home-based cardiac rehabilitation service at phase III delivered by BVAL staff. Cardiac Rehabilitation Instructor Training BVAL co-ordinated and delivered a British Association for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Exercise Instructor course at Blyth Sports Centre during 2011-12. Further courses are planned for the coming year. Walking for Health The Walking for Health scheme is a programme of volunteer led weekly walks throughout Northumberland. After

9 years of service Alan George, walking co-ordinator in the Blyth and Cramlington area, retired. The whole of the south east area is now being covered by Vanessa Burgess. Participation was higher than the previous year, with 11,600 walks being undertaken. An evaluation of the scheme has been undertaken by Leeds Metropolitan University found that the scheme was beneficial to the mental health of participants. Funding for walking remains uncertain, especially in the current financial climate. The service is working hard to find future funding to maintain the programme. Staff Training All contracted members of staff are now qualified to at least level 3 standard. The service has worked extremely hard over the past four years to raise qualification standards and will continue to ensure that staff are offered appropriate opportunities to improve their skills. The Year Ahead The Health and Fitness Service has performed very well during the 2011-12 year and this needs to be maintained in the coming year. The challenging public sector climate means that the service will undergo a restructure during 2012 in order to streamline staffing and save costs.The changing face of public health will also be a factor in how health related programmes are developed / maintained in the future.

Page 16

Leisure Development and Inclusion Service General 2011 has been another great year for the service. The Make-a-Move team effectively delivered a variety of exciting projects across a range of diverse communities. Despite losing a number of staff (as funding agreements ended) the service still managed a whopping 82,971 attendances (that’s nearly 1600 people per week!). The achievements highlighted below provide a flavour of what proved to be a challenging but exciting year for the service.

Funding The undoubted highlight of the year was successfully securing a grant of £300,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to develop a community inclusion programme. The funding will help support 6 full-time posts over the next 3 years. The project will deliver some high level outcomes in South East Northumberland’s most deprived communities. Additional funding of £23,000 has been secured from the Coalfield Regeneration Trust to support the new leisure development apprenticeship programme. Six apprentices were successfully recruited to support the service deliver a range of health, sport and recreational programmes.

Quest As part of Quest (UK Quality Scheme for Sport and Leisure) the service undertook a comprehensive two day assessment scrutinising all elements of provision, including Delivery, Strategy and People. The assessor scored the service at 87% which is in the ‘Excellent’ category, the

highest possible category. The score is the fourth highest score nationally (second assessment score). The Assessor Sandy Mitchell stated that “the services’ rigorous approach and commitment to continuous improvement has resulted in a considerable amount of improvements having been implemented since the last full assessment which has clearly added value to the service provided by the Team.”

High Sheriff Awards The service was also recognised by Northumberland High Sheriff for its valuable services to the community, the award and a cheque for £1000 was accepted on behalf of the service by two young volunteers; Chris Maddox and Colin Jackson. Later in the year the service received another award from the High Sheriff along with a cheque for £750.

Ability to Play Ability to Play continued to exceed expectations. The programme delivers a range of needs led interventions targeting disabled young people and their families. One of the many highlights was the “Christmas Extravaganza” at Blyth Sports Centre. Over 350 people enjoyed activities such as a pantomime, meeting Santa Claus and his real live reindeers and much much more. The event even attracted international TV coverage from Russian state TV! Chris Maddox one of the projects regulars said “Ability to Play has not only changed my life but the lives of my friends and many others who have disadvantaged circumstances.” Page 17

Leisure Development and Inclusion Service The Pegasus Centre


The Pegasus Centre had another fantastic year and is now truly realising its potential as a centre of excellence for disabled riding. The Centre caters for all ages and abilities. One of the key achievements was by Gayle Bloomfield, a Pegasus regular who was to be crowned National Para Dressage Champion and the North East Sports Personality of the Year.

The contractors have started onsite at King Edwards VI high school to create a 6 lane synthetic athletics track and new changing pavilion. The service has also secured much needed funding to refurbish the changing pavilion at Cowpen and to resurface the MUGA at Northburn. Combined, the above projects will see investment of over £2m into sports facilities in Northumberland. This is in addition to the £400,000 of revenue funding the service successfully secured over the year.

Northburn Sports & Community Centre The programme of activities at Northburn Sports and Community Centre continues to expand. A wide range of sports and community organisations make use of the centre’s excellent facilities. The centre provides a base for the services ‘Move It – Community Dance School’. Northburn is the home for a number of successful Charter Standard football clubs, providing the full spectrum of football provision. The Centre has also successfully hosted a number of high profile events.

3G Pitch The service is delighted to announce that after years of hard work the new 3G synthetic pitch and improved grass pitch drainage at The Blyth School is now complete. The Centre had a prestigious opening event in November where Paul Bracewell ex Newcastle Legend and England International officially launched the facility. The Centre has already received rave reviews from the School, local clubs and the wider community.

Holiday Activities Young people from across South East Northumberland had a fantastic time in the school holidays thanks to superb, action packed holiday programmes. A highlight of the summer programme was 16 young people from Morpeth successfully completing the gruelling 140-mile coastto-coast bike ride. The 10 week training programme paid off with the group arriving at Tynemouth Priory in record time, with smiles as wide as the Tyne! Other highlights were National Play Day and the October SPOOKTACULAR holiday programme included the now legendary fright night evening at Concordia Leisure Centre, which was sold out within days! Due to the success of previous events 2 additional nights were organised and sold out at Newbiggin and Blyth Sports Centres. The spooky events consisted of a disco, fancy dress competition, cinema and Dr. Deaths Laboratory with Franksteins body game The Make-a-Move team presented the spectacular Page 18

Leisure Development and Inclusion Service Christmas ‘Winter Wonderland Dance Show’ with a sell-out audience of over 200 parents and relatives enjoying the performances of over 100 young people.

Support for Clubs The Make-a-Move team have supported a range of clubs with their development aspirations through funding and accreditation advice and guidance. The service supported Tri Northumberland with the organisation and delivery of Triathlon and swim events throughout the year. The team worked in partnership to organise a successful London 2012 Open Weekend in July which included a family fun run, open water swim challenge and a middle distance Triathlon event. 700 people took part in Open Weekend activities and events.The team successfully organised another Sport Relief Mile on Sunday 25th March 2012, two hundred and fifty people completed either 1,3 or 6 miles along Newbiggin Promenade raising £1271.84 for Sport Relief in the process.

Athletics The Northumberland Athletic Network continues to build momentum and deliver an excellent programme of athletics activities for clubs and participants across Northumberland. The Network which is hosted by the service, will play a key role in developing a programme of activities at the new athletics track in Morpeth.

Outdoor activities The Outdoor Activity programme has engaged with over 1000 people who have benefited from expert tuition in climbing,

archery, moutainbiking, paddlesports, team building and boot camps to name but a few. MorpethPaddlesport Club has continued to develop on the back of their previous nomination for the prestigious club of the year award.

All About Me and MEND The service uses sport and physical activity as a vehicle to educate young people about a range of issues that affect their lifestyle. ‘All About Me’ and ‘MEND – mind exercise nutrition do-it’ were successfully delivered, which involved addressing self-esteem issues in young girls and obesity and weight issues in 7-13 year olds respectively. The Valley Moves project which was funded through Communities for Health was also very successful. This involved 3 projects aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of different target groups in the Seaton Valley area including Adults & Families, Young people and under 5’s. The projects included healthy weight management programmes delivered in partnership with the Healthy Living Initiative.

Sportivate The Sportivate initiative inspired 183 people aged 14-25 years old to get involved in sport (180 people attended all 6 sessions!). In addition to this, BVAL worked in partnership with Northumberland Sport to develop a climbing project with a group of 14-16 year olds in Cramlington who had been victims of bullying and had confidence/self-esteem issues. The project was only one of four in the Page 19

Leisure Development and Inclusion Service country to be Highly Commended by Sport England. BVAL were rated very highly by Blyth/Bedlington School Sport Partnership for the range of sports/ activities available and the quality of coaching sessions provided. BVAL provided over 440 sessions in schools across Blyth and Bedlington over the year with attendances of over 10,000 pupils.

Looking Ahead The team are looking forward to 2012/13. The year promises to be very exciting for the service with London hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and all of the linked initiatives such as Big Dance, Give it a Go and the Torch Relay etc. The athletics fraternity are already eagerly anticipating the opening of the Morpeth Athletics Track and Changing Pavilion. 2012/13 is the first full year of the BLF funding, which will provide a platform to develop a community orientated and multifaceted service over the next 3 years. Bring on the Olympics!

Page 20

Arts Development Introduction

Good News Stories

Arts Development is responsible for projects and programmes that encourage high levels of participation and appreciation of the arts in South East Northumberland. The department is managed by one full time member of staff with responsibility for both strategic and delivery functions. We have also had the pleasure this year to take on a talented young person as Creative Apprentice supporting both delivery and organisational aspects. Programmes are funded by Arts Council England, Northumberland County Council and Blyth Valley Arts & Leisure.

A full time apprentice has been taken on for two years to increase the capacity of the department. This is part of the Creative Apprenticeship scheme with Gateshead College and The Sage and links with the strategy to keep young arts professionals working in Northumberland

At a Glance There were 26 medium to long term arts programmes An estimated 14,521 people took part or attended in arts and cultural projects. Overall there were 63 community groups and 30 schools supported 275 volunteers took part in leading or helping with projects 86 regional artists/arts organisations were employed to lead and deliver projects Total financial leverage achieved to maximise the arts development budget was ÂŁ136k .

Barefoot @ Seaton Delaval Hall brought a high profile exciting dance and visual arts project to life at an important Historical space. Professional contemporary dance and visual artists worked on residency workshops with young people from 4-16years, 2 schools, Northumbria University graduates and 4 community groups to producing 2 performances and 1 exhibition. 4 schools (522 pupils) attended 4 performances of Les Adventures de Lapin by Theatre Sans Frontieres. Schools also benefited from receiving free education packs. BBC’s 21st Century Classroom took place at Blyth CEC for 6 weeks with 30 school groups from across Northumberland taking part. The Spellbound programme brought enchanting storybook events for young people to 3 libraries and 2 schools. This was initiated to provided complimentary creative literature outreach activity to support Newbiggin Book Festival and Northumberland Library Services Summer Reading Scheme.

Page 21

Arts Development To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Hester Pit disaster of 1862 a number of projects took place including the recreation of 100 commemorative glasses. Partners in the project were the New Hartley Community Association, National Glass Centre and Woodhorn Museum. The Hartley pit banner was also a new piece of work commissioned. Headway Arts led the project in consultation with the steering group members. The project involved workshops with 4 community groups and 4 schools to produce an outstanding large double-sided Pit Banner as well as 7 small banners. This activity was followed by a commemorative concert 14 January which included music, new writing and poetry dedicated to the lives lost in the pit disaster. The Smooth Sundays programme of free music at Blyth bandstand showed further commitment to the use of open and historic spaces. Although hampered by bad weather 1610 people attended 7 events in total with 6 regional acts including emerging new talent and supporting Northumbrian cultural heritage of colliery brass music. The second Blyth Renewables Festival was a great success. This was a 2 day festival taking place on Blyth quayside. Featuring 13 performances, 10 workshops and a variety of street interventions; and in turn supported a number of local arts organisations, artists, musicians and dancers, with input from both professional and community groups. Doorstep Pictures mobile cinema programme has grown from strength to strength with the expansion to North

Northumberland community venues. Doorstep continues to grow with 12 venues screening film across South East Northumberland including 7 new venues. Doorstep also supported 2 venues becoming independently run and stable. The partnership with Queens Hall has strengthened the programme with additional funding support from Northern Film and Media. We also had the pleasure of supporting Cramlington Folk Club their 40th Anniversary Year. The programme included a variety of concerts to reach new and existing audiences promoting folk music from both the professional and amateur sector. Looking Ahead Queen’s Hall Arts will oversee arts development for Northumberland from April 2012. BVAL remain a key partner of the arts development in South East Northumberland in in support, strategy and delivery. The South East Northumberland Arts Development study has developed a clear arts strategy for the southeast of the county. The report can be downloaded at studies--reports Commissioned by QHA with the support of Arts Council England (ACE) managed funds, Great news for the Arts in South East Northumberland also comes from Two successful funding allocations from Creative People in Places fund and Mary Portas Pilot Town. Page 22

Arts Development BVAL will hold events, workshops and commisions throughout the year to celebrate the 2012 Olympics and the journey of the iconic flame through South East Northumberland. A high profile summer festival and visual arts commission is planned to take place in Ridley Park, July 2012. A part time project manager has been employed to work on an arts award research and delivery project. The programme has been devised to undertake action research to identify the challenges facing SE Northumberland schools in the uptake of Arts Awards initiatives. This project will work with 6 schools from a cross section of Middle, High, Academy and SEN. An exciting new commission for a new Memorial pathway for the site of the Hartley Pit Disaster will be underway for completion for Heritage open days, Sept 8th 2012.

Page 23

Wansbeck General 2011-12 saw the continuation of the successful ‘interim’ partnership between Northumberland County Council and BVAL. However, although a detailed review of leisure services across the County began, it is not anticipated that any conclusions on the future of service delivery will be reached until early 2013. In the meantime, BVAL continued to offer extensive support to the ‘Wansbeck’ facilities and promote excellent customer service and a broadening activity programme. Our ‘Wansbeck’ colleagues remain in the employment of Northumberland County Council and the team are positive about the management support they receive, although there is naturally a degree of uncertainty about what the future holds. In the short-term however, staff have benefitted from a NCC ‘Single Status’ review, which was implemented in November and introduced a number of re-gradings and the application of a ‘single premium rate’ (for evenings and weekends). Although this has placed increased pressure on the budget, it is hoped that a staffing re-structure planned for Ashington Leisure Centre will help to achieve some savings in the longer term.

gather views and opinions, concluded that the town centre ASDA site was favoured most by members of the community. The re-generation led project continues to develop and it is hoped that initial design proposals may be circulated in the autumn of 2012. In the meantime, the existing facility continued to attract a significant number of regional events and once again hosted trampolining and badminton competitions, as well as an extremely well-attended triathlon, which took advantage of the centre’s proximity to the adjacent Peoples’ Park. However, the building’s limitations still offered a number of challenges and whilst BVAL worked hard to increase participation, it is difficult to engender any true sense of pride in such an old building. Although the milder winter meant fewer technical problems, the infrastructure limited the possibilities for development and undoubtedly the next 12-18 months will effectively focus on the successful transfer from one facility to the other.

Ashington Leisure Centre

The Institute building hosted one or two successful events, including the Ashington Miners’ Picnic, but the on-going poor day to day trade means the bar and catering service will need to be reviewed. BVAL propose to discuss the options with NCC, but the continuing loss-making service simply cannot be ignored.

The exciting proposal to build a new Ashington Leisure & Community Centre moved a step closer with a site options appraisal suggesting that the old ASDA and hospital sites offered the two most promising opportunities. A subsequent extensive public consultation exercise, to

This year also saw some major changes to the constitution of the Ashington Leisure Centre Trust, with the introduction of a new ‘memorandum of understanding, the completion of ‘incorporation’ and perhaps more significantly, a change of name to the ‘Ashington Leisure Partnership’. Page 24

Wansbeck Recognising the future possibilities, the Trust agreed to focus on partnerships and the realisation that their involvement in the running of a facility may be uncertain. Trustees are confident however,that the organisation has become much more dynamic, independent and capable of adapting to future changes. Newbiggin Sports & Community Centre The centre continued to enjoy good support from the local community, with the year’s highlight undoubtedly being the hosting of the European Junior and Sub-Junior Powerlifting Championships. Competitors from all over Europe enjoyed a warm welcome during the weeklong event in June and the creation of such an effective arena promoted some fantastic competition, culminating in the achievement of several world records. Newbiggin enjoyed some high profile press coverage, as it was the first occasion the event had ever been staged in the UK. The organisers were thrilled with the support they received from both BVAL and our NCC colleagues and presented a commemorative photographic collage to mark such a successful enterprise.

be adversely affected by the introduction of a ‘single premium rate’ for evenings and weekends. Cleasewell Hill Healthy Living Centre There was a major change to the management of this local community centre, with the ‘in-house’ Healthy Living Team being dis-banded and colleagues leaving the premises at the end of March. BVAL continues to support NCC and maintain the facility whilst discussions about the future of the building are explored. The Real Food Works team were successfully re-located to Newbiggin S&CC, but only a handful of regular groups remain.

Although the catering team enjoyed the brief distraction of presenting menus in Russian, Swedish and Polish, like Ashington’s Institute building, the bar and catering service continued to face increasing pressure to deliver a yearend profit. The function suites may attract a significant number of successful weddings and celebrations, but the day to day levels of income present challenges against high staffing costs. More than any other service, bar and catering is likely to Page 25

BVAL Annual Report 2011-2012  
BVAL Annual Report 2011-2012  

BVAL Annual Report 2011-2012