1. Executive SummaryPage 3
  1. Partnership IndicatorsPage 4
  1. Outcomes Based WorkPage 8
  1. Financial PerformancePage 10
  1. Human ResourcesPage 13
  1. MarketingPage 13

Overall performance for the quarter 3 period is good across a number of service areas within the Trust. Following a successful launch in October 2014, the Life Leisure Trust experienced positive levels of sales across Catering, which was a result of a successful marketing campaign and dedication from all staff. All staff who have TUPE transferred from the Council have worked tirelessly to adapt to the changes of working in a more commercial environment and behaviours are changing accordingly.

Visits to both Sports Centres and Cultural venues has increased during quarter 3 and the number of people engaged on community based projects across Adult Community Learning is on track to hit its target of 4,880by March 2015.

Borrowing figures across Libraries has remained constant when compared to the same period last year, which is mainly due to the reduced book-fund budget. The reduction in December 2014 was due to the closure of Ebbw Vale Library on the 16th December for refurbishment. Public access to ICT facilities increased in October 2014 when compared to the same period last year but there was a slight decline in usage for November and December 2014 and this was due to old computer stock not satisfying customer needs. The Trust is working with the Council’s ICT Team to renew all PCs in all Libraries and IT has started implement new stock.

Work to develop a new roof at Parc Bryn Bach visitor centre will start during quarter 4, which will enable the facility to improve its offer to customers. There are also plans to tackle the ongoing challenge of customer parking during evenings at the new Ebbw Vale Sports Centre.

Anthony Hughes

Managing Director

Arts and Culture

Graph 1 - Attendances at Cultural Venues

This data includes all participants, audience and users of the Arts Centres. (Quarter 3 total 18,041) Attendances has increased for Quarter 3 in 2014 by 2,047 when compared to the same period in 2013, which may be attributed to the increase in ‘sell-out’ performances in October and December 2014.

Graph 2 - Average Capacity at Performances

Overall average capacity for quarter 3 in 2014 was 62.66% which is slightly below our target of 65%. This is largely due to lower than expected attendances at the Shakespeare productions in October (12% capacity sold for these 2 shows). We have addressed this for our planned Shakespeare productions in 2015 by engaging with schools much earlier and working with the production company on a joint marketing campaign.

Graph 3 - Participation in Arts Activities

This figure includes all participants who attend sessions of Arts Classes, delivered by our Arts Development team in both Cultural Venues. We have increased slightly (by 75) over this period in 2013.

Sports Centres

Graph 4 – Number of visits to Sports Centres per 1000 resident population

Graph 4 aboveshows the number of visits per 1,000 population for the Trusts Sports Centres in Abertillery, Ebbw Vale & Tredegar, for the period October-December 2013 compared to the same period in 2014. The figures for the comparative periods indicate a slight fall in October 2014, with a significant increase in participation in November 14 and a slight increase in December 2014.

Total number of visits from Oct to Dec 2013 3,069

Total number of visits from Oct to Dec 2014 3,586

Increase of 517 visits per 1,000 population.

Graph 5 - Total Number of Individual Paying Memberships

Graph 5 above shows the total numbers of individual paying members (cash and direct debit) allocated per month for the two periods namely October to December 2013 and October to December 2014. The decline in membership each month during the quarter is seasonal and seen each year. The main reason for the 8% reduction in members when comparing the two quarters can partly be explained by the timing of the opening of Ebbw Vale Sports Centre. The new Sports Centre opened in September 2013 and the number of individuals taking out life cards in September and October 2013 was significantly higher than average. It is clear that a proportion of these members failed to renew after the first couple of months following the opening of the Sports Centre, as demonstrated by graph 6 below. The average monthly number of individual paying members for the April-December period in 2013 was 3178 which compares with 3191 for the same period in 2014. It should also be noted that there was 6.5% price increase in April 2014, which resulted in the loss of some members.

During the October to December 2014 period, a working group consisting of Officers from both the Sports Centres and Sports Development have been working closely with an outside agency, “Big Wave”, with a view to adopting a more commercial approach to increasing memberships within the Sports Centres.

In December 2014 we have started to monitor the percentage of new life card members and will report on this together with the percentage drop off in membership in the January-March 2015 quarter.

Graph 6 –Total number of individual paying life memberships


Graph 7 – Percentage of time allocation for use of public access ICT facilities taken up by users

Graph 7 shows the percentage of time allocated for the use of ICT facilities in Libraries. The decrease from November relates to the problems associated with the age of the People’s Network machines in the service. This resulted in less usage due to slow internet speed and functionality problems. This will be resolved in Quarter 4, with full renewal of all IT equipment.

Graph 8 – Library issues per thousand resident population

Graph 8 shows the level of book issues per thousand resident population. Due to limited expenditure on book purchasing, there has been little scope to increase book borrowing. The decrease in Decemberrelates to the temporary closure of Ebbw Vale Library from 16th December for building improvements.

Graph 9 – Number of visits to Libraries per thousand population

The increase in November shown above in graph 9, relates to group activities and events in Libraries. An increase in school visits, the World War 1 project and various other community events resulted in a higher footfall. The decrease in December relates to the temporary closure of Ebbw Vale Library.

Free Swim Initiative

During the Autumn 2014, a review of the Free Swim Initiative (FSI) in Blaenau Gwent was undertaken and a new framework was introduced in line with WAG guidelines. This brings Blaenau Gwent more in line with other Council’s in Wales.

For the period October - December 2014, there were a total of 2,969 swims, which equates to a 25% increase in Over 60 swimming participation compared to the same period in 2013. In relation to U16 Free Swimming, there were 1,449 swims for the period October – December 2014/15, compared to 2,255 in 2013/14. This reduction in participation is in line with other Council’s and Trust organisations across South East Wales and in line with the reduction in national trends. This could be attributed to a reduction in FSI budgets, together with Blaenau Gwent’s decision to re-align our free swim programme which reflected WAG guidelines. This in turn has resulted in a reduction in free swim time being offered.

It should, however, be noted that there has been a reduction in partner associated programmes delivered in Sports Centres, such as school holiday play schemes, which brought significant numbers to the Sports Centres during each holiday period. Since the introduction of the revised programme, there has been an increase in paying customers attending structured swims such as lane swimming.

The revised FSI programme has in no way reduced the times available for Over 60’s or Under 16’s to visit the pools in each of the Sport Centres. Furthermore, the changes have increased the opportunity for the Trust to function more effectively as a viable business and reduce costs in excess of the grant funding, that was allocated to Blaenau Gwent for the initiative.

Sports Development

The focus for this period was the successful the roll out of the “one-more” project across all the secondary schools in the County Borough, in the hope that the success from the pilot programme at Ebbw Fawr Learning Community, which saw 19 pupils move from a sedentary lifestyle to being hooked on sport, is one that could be mirrored at the other secondary school sites. The “one more” project has been used as an example of good practice with neighbouring authorities, and is now replicated across Gwent.

Raising awareness of physical literacy across school and community settings has progressed well during the Autumn period by building on the “little life” programme of activities, which aims to increase participation in physical activity amongst 3-7 year olds.

The young leader and ambassador programme has continued to grow in strength and success during the autumn term with the Silver ambassadors effectively delivering bronze ambassador training to primary school pupils across the County Borough. The training was very well received and head-teachers commented on the standard of delivery from the Year 10 students.

The young leader programme has continued to develop at Pen-y-Cwm Special School with a new cohort of 6 pupils taking the course this academic year. The young leader programme has also, this autumn, expanded to delivery in Coleg Gwent’s Ebbw Vale Campus.

One of the platinum ambassadors, Luke Rees, recently, and was successful, in applying for a position on the Youth Sport Trust (UK) Steering group, which gives young people a voice relating to future delivery of sport throughout the UK. Luke is only the third young Ambassador ever from Wales to be selected to the steering group. Since completing the Sports leaders course at Brynmawr Foundation School in 2012, Luke has accumulated an impressive list of achievements, including attending the 2013 UK School Games in Sheffield, chosen as one of only two young people from Wales, speaking at the closing ceremony to an audience of over 5,000 people. Luke has also attended the Youth Sport Trust ‘Sport Changes Lives’ dinner at the Savoy Hotel in London to share his story with many international athletes and sporting people.

GP Exercise Referral

The Active Living Team has been focusing on retention during this reporting period with 171 referrals being made, 92 of which were individuals attending the first consultation. 88% of those attending the first consultation were seen again at 4 weeks, with 66% on track to be seen at the 16 week stage of the programme. The team has implemented a number of new strategies to retain patients, including a text message service reminding patients of their appointments and targeted work with GPs to feedback regarding non attendees.

The team has also submitted a successful bid for a cardiac rehabilitation plan and to develop a plan for prostate cancer patients. Both plans will bring additional funding into the area and reach out to vulnerable people within our communities.

The GP referral team ran a successful Christmas extravaganza event at Bedwellty Park which was attended by 68 patients. Those who attended took part in a variety of new physical activity sessions available to them throughout the winter.

As the Trust went live on 1st October 2014 this is the first quarter of operation.

There is an overall positive variance for the quarter of £27k which equates to 3% of the net budget. Further work as outlined below is required to investigate the reasons for variances in individual service areas.

It should be noted that a number of finance and reporting system set up tasks remain to be completed and consequently there has been limited opportunity to undertake a thorough analytical review of the variances, provide commentary and a year-end forecast out turn. Additional challenges such as the extraordinary request by the authority for work to identify additional savings and a resource constraint of 1 Finance FTE has meant that postings to the Trust GL have not been made in a timely manner.

Some of the key financial and reporting activities that will be addressed in the Jan-March quarter are as follows:

  • Budget profiling requires set up on the General Ledger. Currently the 6 month budget to 31st March has been monitored on spreadsheet and has been split equally between the quarters
  • Review of budgets with budget managers. Given lack of profiling, seasonal variations will explain some of the under-spends on various expenditure categories.
  • Review the VAT coding mapped against the product lines on Gladstone to ensure correct tax treatment is taking place.
  • Work with the Authority to ensure that any recharging to the Trust is done in a timely manner. In the first quartera number of invoices paid by the Authority were not recharged to the Trust (e.g. Agency costs, maintenance andutility costs) and where known an estimated accrual has been made.
  • Work with the Authority to ensure that grant income during 2014/15 is reviewed and agreed between both parties and monies transferred appropriately.
  • Documentation of Trust processes regardingraisingof invoices. As the VAT treatment has changed as a result ofthe move to Trust status all staff currently involved in the raising of invoices will require training.
  • Production of a monthly accounting timetable to ensure that all postings to the GL and associated reconciliation work is done in a timely manner.

October to December Expenditure Summary

£’000 / Actual Expenditure
£’000 / Variance
Leisure Services / 302 / 285 / 17
Sports Centres / 657 / 644 / 13
Parc Bryn Bach / 185 / 144 / 41
Sports Development / 73 / 38 / 35
Community Education / 202 / 165 / 37
Bedwellty House and Park / 101 / 79 / 22
Libraries / 197 / 173 / 24
Abertillery Metropole / 45 / 28 / 17
Beaufort Theatre / 76 / 66 / 10
Brynmawr Community Centre / 11 / 9 / 2
Arts Development / 22 / 16 / 6
Heritage Sites / 2 / 1 / 1
Total / 1873 / 1648 / 225

October to December Income summary

Budgeted income
£’000 / Actual Income
£’000 / Variance
Leisure Services / - / - / -
Sports Centres / 552 / 435 / -117
Sports Development / 19 / 19 / -
Parc Bryn Bach / 82 / 51 / -31
Bedwellty House and Park / 62 / 48 / -14
Community Education / 202 / 178 / -24
Libraries / 4 / 4 / -
Abertillery Metropole / 12 / 14 / 2
Beaufort Theatre / 48 / 38 / -10
Brynmawr Community Centre / 4 / - / -4
Arts Development / 3 / 3 / -
Heritage sites / - / - / -
Total / 988 / 790 / -198

A revised structure has been introduced which comprises of 5 strategic business units shown below:

  • Central Support
  • Culture, Events and Hospitality
  • Training and skills
  • Libraries and Community Partnerships
  • Leisure, Health and Well-being

This structure has been created in order to create a more effective fit of services and improve the monitoring of both income and expenditure.

Absence and Turnover Levels

Absence and turnover have continued to remain stable during this quarter. New processes have been introduced to track both short and long term sickness and a Sickness Absence monitoring group has been set up.

Key marketing activities undertaken to support participation, community engagement, membership sales and income generation.

The latter end of 2014 has been a crucial point for the Trust in moving forward into the New Year. There has been a significant influx of new processes throughout the Trust and specifically through marketing and communication.

Throughout October to December we have been engaged in promoting seasonal activities and events across all our venues within the Life Leisure Trust, developing new methods to identify and address lapsed customers and working closely with venue staff to maximise potential income generation. Customer engagement through the use of social media during this quarter has proved to be an invaluable source of promotion and feedback for Life Leisure Trust.

From 1st October to 31st December we gained a total of 357 likes from people across Blaenau Gwent and further afield such as Newport and Cardiff. This number will continue to grow with targeted marketing campaigns at each venue to promote our Trust social media feeds.The data shows that the majority of people who engaged with our page during this initial period were women and the majority of our post regularly reached more than 200 people, with some posts reaching over 1,000. Initially we have relied on organic (free) posts to reach our existing and potential customers, but are planning to utilise paid/promoted posts to increase our reach, following the launch of Aneurin Leisure to maximise our visibility on social networks.

In the lead up to the festive period we increased our promotional campaign for the sports centres in order to maximise participation and income generation, this included:

  • Introducing a ‘Buy 12 months Life membership for the price of 10’ offer.
  • We attended the Christmas light switch on events and outdoor markets in each town to offer free swimming assessments, free one day passes to the gym throughout December and we also set up a special spin bike challenge where participants could win a selection of merchandise.
  • Preparations also began in December to launch the New Year New You campaign after Christmas to target new and existing customers and encourage them to ‘get more out of Life in 2015’.

Parc Bryn Bach

Visitor figures to Parc Bryn Bach during this period have totaled 18,509, a slight drop from last year’s figures for the same period which were 20,716.

Staff at Parc Bryn Bach and marketing have been working together to develop and promote a new regular programme of children’s Adventure Activities for school holidays. A combination of flyer distribution, comprehensive social media campaigns and up-selling by staff has resulted in the attendances for these programmes going from strength to strength.