Basingstoke Sports Centre

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Basingstoke Sports Centre's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Basingstoke Sports Centre is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Using the latest equipment in
our Evolve gym
Celebrating a visit by Dame Kelly
Holmes DBE MBE
Basingstoke Sports Trust (BST) is a not-for-profit
organisation which runs two health and leisure facilities –
in Basingstoke and Newbury – together with locally based
community health programmes. Fees from its 1.1m annual visits
generate 99 per cent of its £3.6m turnover. James Starbuck
became chief executive in late 2012: his first task was to deal
with earlier business decisions which had led BST into deficit.
Here he describes the road to recovery.
A healthier organisation leads to healthier communities
Back in 2012, we were a rather insular organisation. We had significant experience
and expertise but we were failing to harness this in a way that delivered real benefit
to local communities.
A new five-year strategy was our catalyst for change. It focused on two very important
things: to describe in a clear, easily digestible format who we were and what we did
and set out our ambition so that our 180 employees could see their role in BST’s future.
Importantly, we had to catch the attention of those organisations we had identified
as potential partners and stakeholders with whom we wished to engage. So we
made it very easy for these organisations to see where our objectives overlapped with
their own by couching our explanation in language familiar to their own activities.
We were able to address key decision makers and influencers locally and regionally.
This led to many projects and new programmes and we have worked with dozens
of different organisations from local community groups and local authorities to
public health and NHS trusts and clinical commissioning groups to national charities.
»CEO: James Starbuck
»Established in 1970
»Based in Hampshire
»Services: Community health,
fitness, sport, education and
»No. of employees: Over 180
»Registered charity
Basingstoke Sports
Partnerships with these stakeholders
have become the “norm” and a
huge amount of work has now been
delivered benefiting local communities.
As well as building on existing
health programmes such as cardiac
rehabilitation, these partnerships have
introduced many activities including:
1. An expansion to exercise referral
pathways with GP practices across
the borough
2. An exercise referral “Light”
programme based on healthcare
professionals referring patients
who are simply overweight and/or
inactive rather than having pre-
existing health conditions
3. Falls prevention classes in our local
4. A wide range of activities for
children and adults with learning
and/or physical disabilities
5. Activities for those with dementia
or Alzheimer’s and mental health
6. Prostate cancer rehabilitation
We don’t believe there is a single health
condition which cannot either be
prevented or improved upon by regular
physical activity and leading a healthier
lifestyle. Being fitter and healthier
means that people can better cope
with and manage their treatment too.
We don’t apologise for acting
As a registered charity, we believe in
strong business principles to maximise
income. This helps us subsidise and grow
our community health programmes.
We opened bstFitness in Newbury in
April 2015. As well as providing the
opportunity for 2,400 members of
that community to take part in regular
physical activity this provides additional
revenue which means we can continue
to support our more charitable activity.
We work hard to improve our health
and fitness offer at Basingstoke too,
where we have more than 5,300
members. We invested £500,000
in refurbishing the gym, Evolve,
in December 2016 and have now
installed a virtual fitness offer where
customers exercise to a digital class
projected onto a large screen. This has
increased the number of classes we
can offer from 100+ to 200+ a week.
Building on our success
means change
We often refer to working in the
trust as travelling at 100mph – an
acknowledgment that we work in an
industry that is constantly changing
and adapting as well as becoming ever
more competitive as private health and
fitness companies race to open more
sites than the next chain.
If you don’t like change, this isn’t
the industry for you. We’re currently
searching for our next site and plan to
open an additional club shortly within
an hour of Basingstoke. We have
targeted a membership of 1,500 as the
club will be more boutique in nature
but will deliver a healthy bottom line
that will enable us to expand our health
programmes into new communities.
Our weekly cancer
support group
We don’t
believe there
is a single
which cannot
be improved
by regular
Highlighting best practice
We’re also working on a pilot
programme with Basingstoke and
Deane borough council that will
target inactive populations in two
of our local communities. About 85
per cent of adults don’t participate
in regular physical activity. There
doesn’t appear to be an offer that
appeals to this significant proportion
of the population and so developing a
programme that is aimed at engaging
with this group is a challenging but
very exciting opportunity.
Overcoming challenges and
the national context
Our model, like that used by many
leisure and cultural trusts, enables
us to cross subsidise from our
income raising activities such as gym
membership sales to deliver outreach
projects, subsidised access, free
projects and targeted work. These are
all core elements in our business plan
due to our desired outcomes in terms
of community and social engagement.
Our greatest threat comes from a
plan supported by the council to
develop a commercial hotel about a
half mile from our Basingstoke site
with a considerable private leisure
offer. If it goes ahead this will result in
an oversupply of leisure in the town
centre and BST could lose a significant
portion of its membership. At worst
it could mean BST having to wind up
the charity that has traded successfully
for the best part of 50 years. While the
hotel will provide for the more affluent
members of our local communities,
it won’t provide for the thousands
of residents who benefit from our
community health programmes.
We will attempt to trade out of the
threat and we continue to explore
with our local authority partner public
health programmes where targeted
grant funding may also help mitigate
the impending impact. However, it’s
a challenge we could do without
and something that may never have
been approved had due diligence
been completed that included robust
impact assessments. Sporta – our
trade association – is all too aware
of procurement practice within local
authorities with regards to public leisure
services, where there seems to be little
commitment to the Social Value Act
and where planning decisions can often
overlook their communities’ health
needs. Let us hope that Basingstoke
and Deane borough council recognise
the value of BST before we’re possibly
forced out of business.
Developing a
that is aimed
at engaging
with an
population is a
but very
Young swimmers
enjoying our snorkelling

This article was sponsored by Basingstoke Sports Centre. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy