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Slough 'reaping benefits' of new leisure facilities, meeting told

Councillors were given an update into the town’s ‘flagship’ leisure facilities at a neighbourhoods and community services scrutiny panel on Thursday, February 27.

Leisure services manager Alison Hibbert said Slough had improved well in surveys carried out to measure how active residents are since the new facilities including The Centre in Farnham Road and Slough Ice Arena in Montem Lane, have been built.

The Active Lives Survey, carried out by Sport England, reports the activity levels of people in each local authority.

Since 2012 Slough has seen a decline in the activity rates of its residents and in 2014 was reported the tenth most inactive area nationally.

However, the 2019 published data showed a decrease (3.2 per cent) in the number of people reported as inactive.

Alison said: “There is still a lot of work to do in regards to getting our residents more active, but I think it is really good news, we are going in the right direction.”

The council has invested just under £60million in its leisure facilities and has appointed operator Everyone Active to manage them.

In 2018/19, Everyone Active's first full operating year, 898,393 site visits were recorded across its managed facilities.

The council also predicts more than 1.2million visits to its leisure facilities in 2019/20 – an increase of more than 400,000 since 2017.

“Our ambition was to create flagship leisure facilities for Slough residents,” Alison said.

“We would like to think the council’s investment is reaping benefits.”

Impressed by the number of people using the facilities, panel members were also updated on the awards some of them have received.

Slough Ice Arena won a ‘best regional community building’ award in 2018 from LABC – Local Authority Building Control.

However, Alison noted how the number of people taking to the ice has not reached the same heights.

“Ice has been slow – when we have the skating on ice programme on TV, the figures go up, and then they narrow off. It is a seasonal activity,” she said.

Also discussed at the neighbourhoods scrutiny panel last week was knife crime in Slough.

The panel heard from Beth Wilks, interim community safety partnership manager, on the Safer Slough Partnership (SSP).

The SSP seeks to reduce crime, anti-social behaviour and fear of crime to create a safer town.

Panel chairman Cllr Ted Plenty (Lab, Langley St Mary’s) asked if there was any difference in the nature of Slough’s knife crime compared to other areas.

Beth said: “I would say no. Young people are saying that knife crime is about fear and is a defence mechanism.

“Someone said to me that actually we should not be asking people why they are carrying knives, but what it is they are scared of.”

Beth added that the SSP has taken steps to address knife crime, such as funding two workers to deliver awareness lessons, and expanding CCTV in Salt Hill Park, where there have been such incidents.

Cllr Mohammed Nazir (Lab, Baylis and Stoke), sitting in the public gallery, said: “We are starting a big educational programme, we are talking to partners and the NHS.”

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