WLS responds to consultation on Active Wandsworth Draft Strategy

View from Get Active Wandsworth

Active Wandsworth is the Community Sport and Physical Activity Network for Wandsworth and is part of the national structure for sport in England. Active Wandsworth brings together Wandsworth Council (including Public Health), Enable Leisure and Culture and other key partners such as schools, further and higher education, local sports clubs, and organisations to provide a strategic overview of physical activity and sport in the borough. Enable Leisure & Culture lead on the Active Wandsworth network on behalf of the council.

On June 23, a response to Active Wandsworth’s draft strategy consultation was submitted on behalf of Wandsworth Living Streets.

Active Wandsworth Draft Strategy

Wandsworth Living Streets’ Response to Consultation

We are responding to the Active Wandsworth Consultation on behalf of Wandsworth Living Streets.  The online form is tailored for individual responses rather than groups, which is why we are responding by email.  We hope that you will include this alongside all the other responses.

In summary, Wandsworth Living Streets (WLS) supports the scope of the Active Wandsworth Strategy discussed at the network meeting on 23rd May 2017.  But, we do have significant concerns about the version of the strategy published online.  The consultation document has significant gaps, and does not capture the key areas of the strategy communicated at the May network meeting.  We would look to see this addressed in the final version of the strategy.

WLS support for the strategy proposed at the Active Wandsworth Network meeting (May 2017):

WLS welcomes and supports the following from the Active Wandsworth Strategy discussed at the Active Wandsworth Meeting on 23rd May 2017:

·      Shift in emphasis to everyday activity:  WLS agrees strongly with Active Wandsworth’s aspiration to shift the strategy’s main focus towards supporting everyday activity and travel (walking and cycling) for people of all ages and backgrounds, and away from a focus primarily on sport and organised exercise activities.  We agree with other network members that this shift in emphasis is essential for success in encouraging people who are currently less physically active to get started.  We also agree with other network members that this inclusive approach is likely to provide a gateway to the borough’s many opportunities for sport and other organised exercise activities.

·      Co-benefits for the local economy, environment and health:  WLS has long championed the co-benefits of physical activity on other factors affecting health, for example reductions in air pollution, and the benefits to local retail of supporting active travel.  We are pleased that the Active Wandsworth Network shares this view.  We agree with network members that Active Wandsworth will need to draw on and support related strategies e.g. LB Wandsworth strategies for walking & cycling, health & wellbeing, older people and air pollution, TfL Healthy Streets, PHE physical activity guidance, and others.

·      Infrastructure improvements: WLS agrees strongly with the Active Wandsworth Network that improvements to the built environment are essential to support walking and cycling, and thus to the success of the Active Wandsworth Strategy.  Fortunately, such infrastructure improvements are possible at relatively low cost when compared with other interventions, and offer high-value returns on investment.

·      Inclusive approach, motivation and culture:  WLS welcomes Active Wandsworth’s recognition of the importance of friends and family in motivating individuals to become active, and supports the strategy’s aspiration to enlist members of the public alongside professionals to encourage and engage people to become and remain more physically active.

·      Outcomes-based approach:  WLS welcomes Active Wandsworth’s assurance that the new strategy will measure its success by physical activity outcomes, not process as at present.

Concerns with the online, published version of the strategy document:

The current, published, strategy document is very different from that discussed at the Active Wandsworth Network.  Should this remain the borough’s strategy, WLS has significant concerns that it will not succeed in increasing physical activity, and that other co-benefits to the environment and health will not be achieved.  

In general, our view is that the Active Wandsworth strategy as published has a very narrow focus on sport and organised exercise.  We think there are key omissions, such as measures to support everyday activity (walking and cycling), and environmental improvements (e.g. green areas/parks), which would enable members of the public to motivate themselves and support others to exercise.

There are also key gaps in the published strategy about links to other policies and initiatives important to physical activity (e.g. healthy streets, PHE & sports council guidance, other policy/strategy areas e.g. transport, environment & parks, Happy Cities, etc.)

Lastly, although we understand that the published document is an early draft, it has no clear plan for implementation or evaluation.  There are general statements about the four areas of focus, getting the inactive active, and partnerships, but no indication of how this will be taken forward, measured and evaluated – even in outline.


WLS supports the holistic, inclusive approach presented at the Active Wandsworth Network in May, and would welcome an outcome-focused strategy to increase physical activity for all.  We have significant concerns about the published strategy document, as although it presents a strong case for physical activity, the proposed actions remain very narrowly focused on organised exercise and sport.

WLS would like to remain involved in the Active Wandsworth Network, and welcomes further engagement in developing the strategy.

Kind regards,

Ruth Pates, Robert Molteno and Dr Susie Morrow on behalf of Wandsworth Living Streets 23 June 2017