Brentwood Leisure Centre

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Brentwood Leisure 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 Brentwood Leisure 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

CEO Roger Davinson
Brentwood Centre front
Brentwood Leisure Trust was formed in 2004 to take over
the responsibility of running the Brentwood Centre from
the local authority. In 2010, it took on the responsibility
of a further nine community buildings. Established with the
objectives of providing services that benefit the community
of and visitors to Brentwood – predominantly by way of
recreational leisure time in the interests of social welfare – the
trust promotes and preserves good health and wellbeing. CEO
Roger Davinson tells
The Parliamentary Review
more about the
Brentwood Centre and discusses the further work of the trust.
The Brentwood Centre is a mixed-use facility that operates 364 days a year. It
directly employs 80 personnel but can increase this number to as high as 300 by
tapping into a pool of self-employed agency staff and volunteers.
The centre’s facilities include an 80-station gymnasium, a barbell weights studio,
an aerobics studio, spinning, an MMA centre, a holistic hub, a boxing studio, two
swimming pools, a sports hall, squash courts, a 3G artificial football pitch, a beach
volleyball “court” and food and beverage services. All of this is set in 12 acres of
green belt land with parking provision for up to 800 cars.
What we do
The most important factor contributing to any venue’s success is the effective
programming of activities and events. The centre opens at half past five in the
»CEO: Roger Davinson
»Established in 2004
»Based in Brentwood, Essex
»Services: Provision and
management of the Brentwood
Centre and its facilities
»No. of employees: 80 full-
time, increasing up to 300
based on demand
»Nearly 1 million people visit
Brentwood Leisure Centre
every year
Brentwood Leisure
Highlighting best practice
morning and closes at 11 o’clock
at night; we currently run over 100
classes in the studios, operating at
80 per cent of capacity – roughly
1,700 people a week – and have over
1,300 five to 16-year-olds enrolled on
structured swim programmes. One
hundred and thirty classes involving
17 local schools play over 30 Olympic
sports on a weekly basis in the sports
hall. These activities alone attract
around 330,000 visits every year.
Alongside sports and fitness facilities,
we organise and manage over 70
major events annually through
subsidiary company Brentwood
LeisureTrading. These include concerts
– between 15 and 20 a year – boxing,
MMA, gymnastics, ballroom dancing,
collectors’ fairs, indoor basketball
games, a three-day music festival,
dog shows, country shows, outdoor
cinema screenings and gospel events.
These events attract around 300,000
visitors every year – many of which
come from beyond Brentwood
Inclusive pledge
We launched our inclusive pledge in
2015, committing to adapting facilities
and activities to welcome anybody
who walked through our doors.
Inclusion – and our pledge – is about
fairness, equality of access, recognising
discrimination and inequalities and
taking steps to address them. It
is about changing attitudes and
behaviours to ensure equal access
for all members of society, whatever
their age, ability, gender, race,
ethnicity, sexuality, religion, beliefs
or socioeconomic status. Since its
introduction four years ago, the pledge
has been positively received and we
continue to deliver on these principles.
We are currently operating 19 separate
wellbeing programmes, with the
target of increasing this number by
five a year for the next three years. The
latest programmes have focused on
dementia, cancer rehabilitation, youth
boxing and mental wellbeing.
Social isolation and loneliness
contribute to poor physical, mental
and social health. By using facilities
in a welcoming and stigma-free
environment, we bring people
together. Our community garden
project, Chat 1st cafe and other
community events all help to draw
people into the venue to tackle these
important issues.
Chat 1st cafe
Tea dance at the
Nightingale Centre
The Brentwood
Centre is a
facility that
364days a
Forward sustainably
The biggest challenge we face with so
many activities and such diversification
is ensuring that every aspect of the
centre and each individual programme
has the necessary resources to ensure
its ongoing sustainability.
We are getting there in that regard,
but still nonetheless face prejudice
from individuals who quite often hold
the purse strings in local, regional and
national government as well as CCGs
who do not always recognise the social
value that our programmes hold.
The local leisure centre has long since
evolved from the days of council-
run swimming pools being managed
inefficiently, often at huge cost to the
tax payer; as an institution, it now
often stands as a sustainable wellbeing
hub, one with wellbeing programmes
that often reach remote areas and
elements of the community, all the
while operating at zero subsidy.
With continued local authority and
NHS spending cuts, alongside a stark
reduction of resources – especially
in social care and mental health –
there has been a massive increase
in local people turning to their
community leisure centre for help.
The programmes we offer provide this
help, but without proper funding, this
may not always be sustainable.
There certainly needs to be more
joined-up thinking between those who
manage funding – namely local and
regional authorities and CCGs – to
ensure they are spending in the right
areas to best support the community
and provide significant value.
While we have come a long way since
our acquisition of the Brentwood
Centre 15 years ago, we still face
obstacles on a day-to-day basis and
only continue to hope these are
recognised and appropriately dealt
with by local, regional and central
government. Beyond that, we will
continue to act in accordance with
our inclusive pledge and offer the
outstanding facilities and programmes
we do for the welfare of Brentwood,
its community and all.
Inclusion – and
our pledge – is
about fairness,
equality of
and inequalities
and taking steps
to address
The initial funding for this project in summer 2017
came through Street Games, which gave us the
opportunity to offer a programme of sports and
exercise for the eight to 14-year-olds during the school
holidays from 12pm to 4pm with a snack on arrival, a
nutritious meal and a food goody bag to take home.
The programme was promoted through the local
schools, and any children on means testing were offered
a free place with others paying £5 per day. The split was
35 per cent means tested to 65 per cent paying.
We found help locally through Tesco and Greggs,
who were generous in their donations of food to
assist in ensuring all participants were fed. This enabled us to provide a main meal at an average of £1 per head
and a snack and a goody bag from Greggs to take home at the end of each session. Average numbers for the
holiday programme daily were 80, and going forward with this business model we are now able to offer Fit and
Fed as a sustainable project every holiday with the continued support of our food partners Tesco and Greggs.
As an extension to this successful project we launched the Friday night takeover in October 2017, which offers a
two-hour session every Friday night of exercise and sports-related activity with a snack.

This article was sponsored by Brentwood Leisure 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 Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster