Purpose of Report
To present the final version of the Council’s Physical Activity Strategy for approval.
That the Council’s Physical Activity Strategy be approved.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
Reason for Decision
Historically, and in line with national trends, Lincoln had experienced generational improvements to the life expectancy of its residents. Over this same period, the quality of these life indices had also improved, which it was understood were closely linked to medical advances and an improved understanding of wider health issues.
Over the last ten years many of the more deprived areas of Lincoln had seen life expectancy measurements, along with various other quality of life indices, beginning to stall or, in some cases, decline. Although the reason for this decline could not be put down to a single cause, health experts agreed that this disappointing trend was closely related to the decline in the number of people taking part in regular physical exercise.
The Council’s Physical Activity Strategy, attached to the report at Appendix A, included a five year action plan designed to improve the numbers taking part in physical activity, especially those from specifically targeted hard to reach groups. Interventions and programmes would also target specific deprived regions of Lincoln with challenging health and socio economic indices.
As part of implementing the Strategy, the City Council would work with various other organisations including its own leisure provider, Active Nation, to deliver a number of programmes and interventions to improve these activity levels.
In the longer term, the Physical Activity Strategy had the aspiration to develop and imbed a longer term ‘Active City’ Plan for the City Council. Work leading to this award would include at its core the establishment of a city wide management group to further develop the Council’s approach to becoming an ‘Active City’.
It was reported that the Strategy had been considered by the Council’s Policy Scrutiny Committee, which had commended the document as inspirational.
Councillor Bob Bushell fully supported this document and reflected that lots of people were taking part in a range of activities, the vast majority of which were free and easy access. It was mental health as well as physical health that could be improved as a result of becoming more active, with the implications of Covid-19 resulting in people meeting up with friends or family for walks or other activities that they perhaps may not have done previously. In addition, there were lots of volunteering opportunities available, particularly in respect of the city’s open spaces. Councillor Bushell acknowledged that there were still challenges, with some people still feeling effects of austerity and Lincoln sitting amongst the 20% of the most deprived authorities in the country. Average life expectancy in some areas of the city continued to be alarmingly low, with high levels of obesity also apparent. From the perspective of individual, social and economic benefits, Councillor Bushell made the point that all of these factors played a part in benefitting society, highlighting the importance of people becoming more active as a key contributor. Making reference to page 33 of the Strategy document, Councillor Bushell said that the flow chart outlining the stages of behavioural change influencing a person’s decision making process was key in terms of helping people understand how they could change their circumstances. He was also pleased to see that the Strategy sought to make better use of the Council’s Community Centres.
Councillor Donald Nannestad agreed that it was not necessarily about what facilities were available but about change, stating that if people could change their behaviour and become more active it would improve their lives, with even a small change making a huge difference. He commended the Strategy, which he said was part of a series of such documents designed to help people become more active and take advantage of what was on offer in Lincoln.
Councillor Rosie Kirk supported that Strategy but was keen for more emphasis to be placed on walking, particularly linked to the city’s heritage and history, suggesting heritage trails as an example of how this could be achieved. She advocated walking and cycling in the city, given its relatively small boundary, and was keen to make these activities safer in Lincoln.
Councillor Ric Metcalfe, on behalf of the Executive, conveyed his thanks to Steve Lockwood, Sports, Leisure and City Services Manager, for his work in developing the Strategy.