There has been increased concern for lack of enough leisure amenities and facilities in the town of Sherbury county, Wealdshire. Lack of the social facilities has led to public unrest. The lack of available leisure amenities has been associated with increase in teenage disorderly behaviour in the town. Police reports in the town have shown increased cases of vandalism, teenage alcoholism and disorderly behaviour. There have also been increases in the number of teenage gangs in the estates. Lack of enough leisure facilities has been associated with increased disorderliness.
Leisure facilities in Sherbury are not enough to cater for the town’s population. The available facilities have been oversubscribed. Competition for available facilities has led to a number of problems. Youth gangs have developed where younger youths are denied access to facilities. Because of lack of enough facilities in the town, some individuals are forced to go as far as thirty mile to use leisure facilities.
The issue on leisure facilities in the town has been in the public domain for a long time. The Sherbury Chronicles has been campaigning for improvement of the facility in the last few months. Editorials on the subject have attracted public attention (Bramham 78; Bull, Hoose and Weed34; Veal 89). Readers’ opinions on the subject have changed toward condemning the town council for neglect. Sport clubs and association have also expressed the need for leisure facilities in the town. They suggest the construction of a new leisure centre that meets the needs of the users. The proposal has gained support with some councillors canvassing for construction of the facility.
The call for leisure facilities led the Chief Executive of the council to form working part to look into the issue. The working party was mandated with the responsibility of investigating the need for leisure facilities, financial implication of the facilities and the appropriate place to locate the facilities.
Purpose of Report
The purpose of the report is to highlight the need for leisure facilities in Sherbury town and show how the gap of leisure facilities provision can be met. The main theme in the report is lack of availability and access to leisure facilities by Young people and general public in the town.
Structured questionnaires and interviews were used to obtain an overview of need for leisure facilities in Sherbury. Participants were chosen from residents in the town. To obtain a wider range of opinion, participants from different age and groups were chosen. Youths from different areas of the town were involved. After identifying the participants, questionnaires were presented to them. Most of the questionnaires hand delivered to willing participants while some were sent through the post. A number of participants were chosen for structured interview. Some interviews were conducted on one to one while others were conducted through the telephone noting their response.
Participation in the survey was relatively good. Most participants were willing to participate in the survey; however, there were some challenges. Some of the questionnaires sent were not filled and some not returned on time. Some of the participants chosen for interview were not available at the time of interview. On the overall, the survey was successful.
Availability of Leisure Facilities
Availability of leisure facilities is important to their usage (Straits and Rapoport 103; Pigram and Jenkins 65; Bramham, Kew and Haywood p. 89). A number of leisure facilities were identified in Sherbury town. However, the facilities were few as compared to the number of people in the town. Many leisure facility administrators said that they had more users than their facilities could handle. Most of the few leisure facilities in the town were observed to be oversubscribed. Some of the facilities handled more that thrice of the number of users that they were supposed to serve. Some leisure facilities providers admitted that they found it difficult to control the use of the facilities.
From the survey, it was noted that most youths did not access leisure facilities. Most of the youths cited lack of availability of leisure facilities as their main reason for not participating in sports and exercise. Some respondents cited oversubscription and their hindrance to using leisure facilities. The respondents said that they had to wait for long hours before they could use the available facilities. Some participants were discouraged from using leisure facilities because of the distance from their residential area. Young leisure facilities users expressed that they were excluded from using the facilities by older users.
Need for facilities
Many of participants expressed their need for leisure facilities. The participants expressed that they would like to participate in sports and other leisure facilities but lacked the facilities.
Most participants expressed concern over lack of enough facilities in their place of living. Some participants said that they spend there free time doing naught things because of lack leisure facilities. Most respondents believed that increase in vandalism and teenage disorder was related to lack of available leisure facilities in the area. Many participants felt that construction of more leisure facilities in the town was required.
Challenge in Leisure Facilities Provision
Leisure facilities were found to be of great priority to residents of Sherbury. Some challenges were identified to affect provision of the facilities in the town. The leisure facilities providers expressed difficulties in financing the facilities (Ravenscroft 8; Calderdale Council par 5; Oxfordshire par 5; Humphrey par 7). Difficulties in attracting sponsors and grants affect their ability to improve and expand facilities. Facilities providers also found difficulties in proving facilities for all group of individuals.
Importance of leisure facilities
There are many benefits of leisure facilities to an individual. Benefits of leisure facilities range from heal the benefits to social benefits (Torkildsen 45; Robinson 78; Mintel International Group 78). Participation in leisure activities benefits physical and mental health. Individuals that participate in leisure activities such as swimming, sporting and other have better health than those who don’t. Participation in sports and physical exercise helps to reduce occurrence of lifestyle healthy issues such as diabetes, obesity and heart diseases (Plant, Spillane & Collins, 2009, par 4; Finn, 2009, par 5; Johnson, 1996, par 7). Participation in leisure activities has also been found to have positive effect on mental health. Leisure activities have been found to boost the feeling of wellbeing and reduce cases of stress. In addition, leisure facilities have been found to reduce social problems such as drug abuse, alcoholism and social disorder.
Location of Leisure Facilities
Most participants expressed the need for easy accessibility to leisure facilities. Leisure centre need to be located in an area that can be accessed easily (Crompton par 5; Blodgett and Walefield 78; Stewart and Riddick 67). The location should be easily accessible through both public and private means (Johnson 7; Crompton 89; Brownson and Ramsey 43). To support private transport users, the centre should set aside enough packing space. The location should support future expansion. A site at the end of Charles Bowley Memorial Recreation Park was identified as appropriate for the site. Although not centrally located, the site has enough space for parking and room for expansion. The site will be able to accommodate the many services required for the facilities.
The major financial implication is the cost of setting up the leisure centre. The estimated cost ranges 2 to 2.5 Million pounds. About 0.5 million pound will be required per annum will be required to enhance the facility in five years. Long term concern is to keep the operation cost with the reach of the council. The other concern is the ability to attract additional investment in the future. The future financing for the project can be solved by seeking grants and sponsors.
There is need for leisure facilities in Sherbury town. The few leisure facilities in the town are not enough for the population. Lack of the facilities highly contributes increase in vandalism and teenagers involved in alcoholism and social disorder. To address the issues, Sherbury council should set up a leisure centre. The leisure centre will be able to reduce the cases of social disorder among the youths and well as improve their physical and mental health. Although setting up the facility is costly, the long-term financial implications are favourable.
The council should consider Setting up a leisure centre at the site at the end of Charles Bowley Memorial Recreation Park.
Initial financing for the projects can sourced from council, grants and management.
Private management should be sourced In order to make leisure centres financially independent.
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