[Richard Welch, Head of Healthier Place, and Andrea Fieldhouse, Active People and Places Manager, to present report]
Richard Welch, Head of Healthier Place, and Andrea Fieldhouse, Active People and Places Manager, jointly presented the report. The Head of Healthier Place outlined the background to the development of the physical activity strategy aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of Wolverhampton residents. The Head of Healthier Place advised the panel of the links between the local strategy and the national strategy guidance published by Sport England.
The Head of Healthier Place commented on data on levels of physical activity reported in Public Health Outcomes Framework for Wolverhampton and how the results compare to recommended levels of physical activity. The Head of Healthier Place briefed the panel on the details of the strategy outlined in Appendix 1 and 2 of the report.
The Head of Healthier Place added the plans involves working with local communities on an ‘industrial scale’ to encourage a further 27,000 people to take part in a physical activity and the role of community leaders in supporting this work. The Head of Healthier Place commented on the work done to encourage 20 local businesses to get involved in the connected places strategy by highlighting the potential benefits, for example, reduced staff turnover, increased productivity.
The panel commented on concerns about road safety and evidence from other places of having car free zones and how it impacts on levels of fitness and well-being. The Head of Healthier Place accepted the benefits of such plans and how behaviour is shaped by traffic flows. The Service Director, Public Health and Wellbeing, briefed the panel about the main messages from a conference aimed at promoting the use of cycling and the ideas suggested that could be used to create safer spaces and offer public reassurance. The issue of traffic is a concern across the region and also for West Midlands Combined Authority.
The Service Director commented on pilots being tested about the use of 20 mph speed limit zones. The panel commented on the issue of how this would be enforced. The Service Director on the use of ‘no ball game’ signs in areas and impact that this has efforts on encourage children to play games outside to improve fitness and wellbeing. The Service Director commented on the need to have a conversation with local residents about the importance of encouraging children to be active every day, while trying to meet their concerns.
The panel discussed the impact of traffic on children and concern about the reduction over time in street games. The panel discussed the examples from Holland where residents have made changes which have led to the introduction of ‘play streets’, where no cars are allowed to create safe spaces.
The panel discussed the barriers to encouraging specific groups such as girls and people aged over to either maintain or increase current levels of physical activity and the benefits. The Head of Healthier Place accepted the challenge in getting young people aged 11-13 years to keep active and that the issue has been discussed by members of the Active City Board. The Head of Healthier Place commented the potential for community groups to use school sports facilities, but added there is work to done with schools to agree a process.
The panel welcomed the report and the progress made with the strategy.
The panel agreed to note the progress of the Towards and Active City – A physical activity framework.