Independent report into sport highlights ‘Serious concerns'

Deputy Lucy Stephenson commissioned the independent review and duly accepted 19 of the 21 recommendations Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (37087465)

A THOROUGH independent report reviewing sport policy, strategy and delivery has been released by the Government of Jersey which makes 21 recommendations for the government and Jersey Sport to consider.

The vast majority of recommendations have been accepted by Deputy Lucy Stephenson, the Assistant Minister with responsibility for sport, who commissioned the review as part of the 2023 Ministerial Delivery Plans.

The 114-page document, written by Simon Cooper, a former head of sport for the Mayor of London, contains interviews with key stakeholders, including Deputy Stephenson, Jersey Sport staff, a range of sports bodies and other key organisations and individuals.

In total, over 70 people were interviewed for the review.

The report highlights that although the existing arm’s-length agreement between the government and Jersey Sport should continue, delivery must be “strengthened” and that consideration is given to creating a “Statutory Strategic Body for Sport and Physical Activity”.

In Cooper’s preface to his report, he states that, following consultation from the review, “there are some positive aspects to the way the current arrangement is working.

“However, there are also a number of serious concerns, based on strong views, which are adversely affecting people’s views about that arrangement.

The Government of Jersey and Jersey Sport will need to address these concerns seriously and collaboratively. The report contains a series of comments and recommendations to help that process.”

Of the 21 recommendations, Deputy Stephenson accepted 19, with the exception of Recommendation 10: “The Government of Jersey should consider re-establishing the work of the sport and facilities teams into the same department and report to one minister” and Recommendation 17: “The Government of Jersey should develop a new, comprehensive strategy for sport and physical activity.”

On Recommendation 10, the government responded: “Ministers have discussed the relative benefits and disbenefits of re-establishing the work of the sport and facilities team into a single department, reporting to a single minister. However, the current structure works well, and they do not believe this would bring any significant benefits at this time.”

Regarding Recommendation 17, the response explained that a review into funding available for sport and physical activity was being undertaken. The review will be completed by September 2024 and will inform how sport and physical activity programmes will be delivered and funded from 2025.

Since Jersey Sport’s launch in 2017 there has not been a review of the arrangement.

Deputy Stephenson said: “It has been more than six years since the government changed the way it delivered sport and physical activity as well as related policy and strategy, and in that time there had been no formal independent review of how things were working. In commissioning this piece of work, I also listened to the concerns of many sporting organisations and other stakeholders, who told me that they believed the system was not working as effectively as it could or should be.”

The Deputy echoed the sentiments that both the government and Jersey Sport need to work collaboratively in order to implement change.

“There is some very good work being carried out by Jersey Sport but it’s clear there are also some shared concerns, especially relating to support for sport,” she added.

“We will now work together to address the issues raised, and I am hopeful that the publication of this report can mark a positive reset in how we collaborate to deliver for Islanders.

“I’m committed to improving the support for sport in Jersey and promoting the very many benefits it brings to our community.”

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