A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Vivacity'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 Vivacity 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
Highlighting best practice
Chief Executive Peter Appleton
Vivacity operates many of
Peterborough’s cultural and
leisure services
Established 10 years ago, Vivacity Culture and Leisure
oversees the delivery of many of Peterborough’s cultural,
sports and leisure services, events and activities. These
include leisure centres, theatre, libraries, museums and a
number of cultural and heritage sites and events. With over
half of Peterborough’s population accessing Vivacity’s services
and 1.8 million visits a year, Vivacity reinvests surpluses from
its commercial activities into enhancing and enriching the
city’s culture and leisure scene. Vivacity’s Chief Executive Peter
Appleton tells
The Parliamentary Review
about their efforts to
reinvent themselves, and about their optimism for the future.
Peterborough is a medieval city with a current population of 196,640. It is a city
focused on investment, growth and opportunity.
Ten years ago the city council made a strategic decision to protect the arts, culture
and sports in the face of budget pressures by creating a new delivery vehicle to
enable their leisure and cultural offer to flourish. Since its inception, Vivacity Culture
and Leisure Trust has played a pivotal role in delivering this offer. We have improved
service quality, increased participation and reduced the cost of delivering core services.
Despite austerity, the charitable trust model remains the right model. We must
generate additional income and diversify while preserving, and indeed adding to,
our offer. Our ultimate aim is to ensure the sustainability of our culture and leisure
services across the city, but to do this we need to operate in a more commercially
savvy and self-sufficient way.
»Chief Executive: Peter Appleton
»Founded in 2010
»Based in Peterborough
»Services: Management of
cultural, sports and leisure
services, events and activities
across Peterborough
»No of employees: Around 500
»No of volunteers: Around 450
»Over 1.8 million visits per
»Key sites top rated across
Vivacity Culture &
Leisure Trust
Reorientating the income
Historically, income generated from
our gym membership sales has been
our financial backbone, but intense
competition from the private leisure
sector puts this at risk. Funding we
receive from Peterborough City
Council has halved over our lifetime
and that trajectory is set to continue as
the council’s own grant from central
government is reduced and demand
on statutory services increases. This
required a stark appraisal of what the
future could look like and it was very
clear that change was necessary.
As a local charitable trust, profits are
not distributed to shareholders and
money is not leached away from the
city. All the surpluses that we generate
are reinvested back into the facilities
and services we operate to enrich
the lives of local people. There simply
needs to be more of it and more
income to reinvest.
Investing in the local
Our purpose has always been clear.
We believe we play a vital role in
helping to raise the profile of the city
and defining a sense of place.
Over half the population choose to
use our services and interact with us in
some way. We want all those people,
and more, to continue to feel good
about their choice because we are the
charity that reinvests that profit from
their cup of coffee in our museum
café, or their ticket to see a show at
our Key Theatre or swim at the lido
directly back into our services.
Our reinvestment supports local people
with severe disabilities to learn a sport
of their choice on the Embankment,
provides tailored rehabilitation sessions
at our facilities to assist stroke and
cardiac patients to recover, takes our
reading bus into deprived areas to
support the council’s literacy drive and
inspires young people to perform with
the Key Youth Theatre.
We want to continue to bring hope
and inspiration into the lives of the
people of Peterborough, and so we
needed to reinvent.
Time to change
Our values sit at the heart of our
organisation and we recognise our
people are the key to delivering our
transformation ambition. Phase one
involved adapting and creating the
right team for growth. This included a
clearer focus on strategic direction and
placing commercial thinking central
to our future planning as a driver
However, evolving a culture and
embedding new behaviours takes
time. Since the decision to reinvent our
operating model, there has been rapid
change across several areas of the
organisation. This includes structural
Vivacity’s annual
inclusive sports day
We want to
continue to
bring hope
and inspiration
into the lives
of the people
Highlighting best practice
Highlighting best practice
change and providing renewed
leadership, alongside supportive
changes to governance arrangements
that helped shape a future vision
and the skills required to deliver it by
working with our current partners
and forging new community and
commercial relationships.
This rapid change was only going to
be successful if we engaged across
the whole organisation to design and
deliver a new way of working. So,
that’s what we did.
With a dedicated focus on being
much more joined up and working
collaboratively, the green shoots of hope
are emerging, illustrating how great the
future could become for us and the city.
Critically, transformation involves
strong partnership working around
a shared vision. A new strategic
alignment was required to reorientate
our collective ways of working to lay
the foundations to support a city-
wide partnership that demonstrates a
collective effort that benefits everyone.
Optimism for the future
Our initial efforts provide some
measured optimism for the future. The
passion for Peterborough’s cultural,
sport and leisure offer is abundantly
clear across the city and we have seen
some great successes so far.
An example of this is the “Treasures”
exhibition at the museum, the most
important exhibition ever held in the
city. For the first time in Peterborough’s
history, this exhibition brought together
the area’s most important historical
pieces including the Water Newton
silver lent by the British Museum and
the Becket Casket from the V&A.
This year we will also help to lead
Peterborough’s year of reading. Illiteracy
is an issue in the city but there are lots
of exciting things in the pipeline to help
tackle that. Working in partnership with
multiple stakeholders shows how we
can support the education system, so
we’re building stronger connections
across schools,too.
We now know we need to continually
adapt to changing external factors and
maintain a focus on our ultimate aim.
We strongly believe that arts, culture,
sport and leisure are important
parts of providing a sense of place
and act as “social glue” for society.
This belief remains core to our
We strongly
believe that
arts, culture,
sport and
leisure are
parts of
providing a
sense of place
and act as
“social glue”
Vivacity’s services include
sports and wellbeing

This article was sponsored by Vivacity. 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 Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development