Metropolitan Police Sports Club Chigwell

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Metropolitan Police Sports Club Chigwell'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 Metropolitan Police Sports Club Chigwell 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

Colin Pridige, managing director
Main clubhouse
Founded in 1936, The Metropolitan Police (Chigwell) Sports
Club is situated in a Victorian mansion on a 42-acre site in
the heart of Chigwell, Essex. The raison d’être was quite
simple: to provide sport and social relaxation for police officers
and their families – something of a refuge from the hustle and
bustle of their daily lives; a safe environment away from the
criminal activity they routinely contend with during their work
days. With a long and proud tradition, the club continues to the
present day. Their journey and manner of operating is expanded
upon by their managing director, Colin Pridige.
Our story
The mansion in which it’s situated is itself a grade II listed building, and the grounds
are all within the green belt. Because this was not initially a purpose-built club,
various sporting facilities and other sports and leisure buildings were installed in an
ad hoc fashion throughout the grounds. This included several football and rugby
pitches, a hockey pitch, tennis courts and a bowling green. Later on, squash courts
and a gymnasium were provided, as well as a number of functionsuites.
All of these facilities, although improved and updated over the years, remain on
site. What’s more, these facilities were provided free of charge to members, since
the whole police estate was owned by the then receiver for the Metropolitan
Police. This continued until 2000 when the inception of the mayoralty of London
meant that the estate transferred to ownership of the Greater London Authority.
Budget constraints within the mayor’s office meant that the future existence of the
»Managing director:
»Established in 1936
»Based in Chigwell, Essex
»Services: Conference, function
and sporting facilities and
»No. of employees: 48
Metropolitan Police (Chigwell)
Sports Club
Highlighting best practice
club came under threat, as they would
only commit public funds to day-to-day
core policing – a remit within which
our club did not fall.
In 2003, a series of meetings began
between our representatives and the
mayor’s office to see if we could find
a way forward by retaining the clubs
at a substantial financial saving to the
mayor’s office. The eventual outcome
was an agreement whereby we were
given an initial 20-year lease that
began in 2008 as a private member’s
club and allowed to form a company
limited by guarantee.
However, we were then subjected to
rent and business-related costs for
which we had not previously been
responsible. To help ameliorate this,
we were afforded a limited annual
allowance from the mayoralty in
exchange for allowing police and
police staff free access to the club. This
included those who have retired from
the service as well as staff from the
mayor’s office.
A new model
All of these new decisions presented
to us an entirely alien scenario, one
that was somewhat daunting at
first. Much of what we had once
taken for granted was now replaced.
Nevertheless, we realised we had to
become self-sufficient at the outset of
lease negotiations, so we immediately
implemented the necessary changes
to our membership criteria. This
entailed allowing membership from
the local community so they could
use our facilities, for example, local
youth projects, including sport events
– something encouraged by the
As part of this effort, we also
purchased a large marquee capable
of holding up to 1,000 guests,
which is now primarily used for
Asian weddings, bringing us a much
needed source of income to meet our
operating costs. We also have internal
function suites which are used for all
kinds of social activities. For example,
we regularly hold “benefit nights” for
local charities in both our marquee and
internal suites, which provides their
causes with funds through tickets sales
and auctions.
Initially attracting business from
outside was problematic, as local
residents had always seen our
facility as a closed shop. But I’m
pleased to say that these barriers
are always diminishing, and there
is now substantial local interest and
attendance. We continue to encourage
police training within our facilities,
and we regularly hold long service
and commendation ceremonies. We
provide the accommodation free of
charge, with only food and beverage
requirements being chargeable.
We have a limited turnover of staff,
most of whom have been employed
with us for many years. All of the
staff are professional, friendly and up
to date with their training regarding
Our banqueting suite set
up for a function
Commit public
funds to more
than day-to-
day core
the procurement of a safe and clean
environment for all attendees. Indeed,
we have managed to achieve a happy
family atmosphere among staff, for
whom customer satisfaction is a
genuine aspiration. Our motto is to
“treat people how you would like to
be treated yourself” – an approach
that has proved successful with
Regarding advertising, we do this
primarily through social media. In a
competitive market like ours, we have
to constantly review our pricing and
facilities. There are, after all, many
similar premises in close proximity to
us, offering similar services.
Future prospects
We’re not stopping there, though.
We continue to pursue other possible
business opportunities, including
using our extensive grounds for
team-building exercises, local projects
and extra sporting events. In fact,
we are currently in the process of
renegotiating our lease with the
mayor’s office in an effort to extend
it, such that we can attract long-term
investment from outside sources. One
of these sources, indeed, is interested
in enhancing our sporting facilities
by installing a synthetic football pitch
to make the club more attractive to
prospective users.
As we currently only have ten years
left of our lease to run, there is a
reluctance to invest on a short-term
basis. Extending the lease would
hopefully give us the opportunity
to attract rental of some of our
non-residential buildings to local
companies. Our current lease does not
allow this option.
In spite of this, we are pleased at
where we are now. Our business has
successfully made the transition to
a more self-reliant company. Having
changed our operations in this way
has been a considerable challenge,
but – on reflection – one that we
surmounted and are now seeing
benefits as a result. In addition to
Chigwell, there are three other police
clubs within the ownership of the
Greater London Authority: Bushey
Sports Club in Hertfordshire, Imber
Court Sports Club in Surrey and Hayes
Sports Club in Kent. Each club is
subject to the same conditions as we
are, and are all companies limited by
guarantee as agreed with the mayor’s
office. The model is succeeding, and
is doing so without losing sight of the
company’s core initial purpose.
Our business
has successfully
made the
transition to a
more self-reliant
Our summer mega

This article was sponsored by Metropolitan Police Sports Club Chigwell. 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 The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister