Agenda item

Public Participation

An opportunity for members of the public to make statements and ask questions in accordance with the rules as to Public Participation.




Howard Russell and Steve Day spoke on items 9 and 10. Full details in the minutes.


Howard Russell and Steve Day made statements regarding the Athletics Track Relocation and the Physical Activity and Sports Strategy.

Howard Russell

1. Would the Council agree that with both higher heart disease and substantial sports facilities, there is something wrong in Dacorum. The answer is not more structures recommended by large national clubs who count success by membership numbers. This will only result in the permanent loss of precious natural land. Money would be better spent on improving quality which always attracts.

2. Would the Council also consider a refocus away from structures and more to the strategy of converting people from an unhealthy to a permanent healthy lifestyle with our important sports organisations giving back to the community by funding lifestyle conversion without necessarily targeting future membership. The primary objective is health and happiness for all.

3. Can we also ask the Council to consider the use of Psychology and associated professions to develop conversion programs and to avoid using unfamiliar Sports structures and Trainers for such purposes. It’s about educating people to understand there is a better way to live. It’s initially a cerebral process. Dacorum is ideally placed to initiate such a program with measurable results and to move converted people into organised or freestyle sports activities. More structures, more variety and more land use is simply not the answer to the primary objective.

4. Does the Council provide statistics of sports facility utilisation to determine if expansion is actually required.


5. Regarding Cupid Green, does the Council agree that the permanent designated open recreational land will be maintained to protect Cupid Green playing fields for the future benefit of all.

6. Does the council also agree that the parking area at Cupid Green needs resurfacing as it has fallen well below the standard seen in many other Dacorum Parks.

Councillor Williams thanked Mr Russell for his statement and said he would get a response sent to him as the points he raised were quite detailed.

Steve Day

Hi I’m Steve Day the founder of the Facebook group LeisureFacilitiesAreNotForProfit I am also a trustee of Dacorum Sport trust but not speaking in that capacity tonight.

Regarding the track

The Housing and Community committee recommended cabinet reviewed all responses, look at the financial case and the benefits of the scheme.

Despite yet again huge public opposition to the council’s direction of travel the scrutiny committee failed to stop it in its tracks by recommending to cabinet that the proposal was rejected. Yet again political influence takes priority over the community interest.

For Cllr Williams to then state he will recommend the scheme is not carried forward is blatant electioneering and spineless.

Irrespective of that I recommend that you take up his advice and discontinue the proposal once and for all enabling the people of Cupid Green to get on with their lives

Regarding the Strategy

Several organisations with direct experience in developing strategies and sport management fed back during the consultation. To the best of my knowledge none of these suggestions (including mine) have made any material difference despite assurances from the portfolio holder.

The scrutiny committee last week heard from Matt Bullard – a senior government employee who has offered to support the council to make the strategy “fit for purpose”. Others with sport and leisure industry experience are keen to help the council NOW but apparently it’s acceptable to “put the meat on the bone AFTER this document is approved.

Added to that I have it on VERY good authority that in order to access funding Sport England

“need to see a robust and coherent Strategy that clearly outlines the current state of play, what the challenges and priorities are, what the goals and SMART objectives are and how these will be met, including KPIs, resources, timescales etc.

This strategy does not do that and therefore will fail in securing funding.

Added this this the fact that the portfolio holder said there is no budget or funding for sport, AND £6m is being taken OUT of sport by the leisure contract this strategy WILL FAIL.

If this strategy is allowed to proceed, the public will again see VERY clearly that this council is NOT interested in sport, is NOT serious about getting external money and is only interested in taking money out So reject the strategy and make it fit for purpose!!!


Councillor Williams thanked Mr Day and responded to his statement. He said that it was not within the power of the scrutiny committee to stop the report and the Cabinet agenda had already been published at the time of the meeting. It would have been more helpful if the committee had focused on making comments on the report. He said he felt it would have been inappropriate to put the recommendation not to continue with the project on the committee report and that is why Councillor Williams made the declaration at the end of the meeting that he would not be taking it forward. He said it was disappointing to hear that Mr Day felt the decision was a political one because it was purely based on the outcome of the public consultation.