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Improved communication helps Bay of Plenty sports clubs

Summary

Sports clubs in the Bay of Plenty are enjoying a much-improved relationship with Tauranga City Council (TCC) thanks to a council funded service at their local regional sports trust. This case study looks at the results achieved in the past three years by a Sport Bay of Plenty Sports Development Co-ordinator working with local clubs. The agreement has just been renewed through to 2011.

The co-ordinator has improved relations so much that the TCC six monthly Outdoor User Groups Forums have evolved from being difficult evenings to pleasant evenings that are informative and even fun. Clubs are taking advantage of the independent, well-connected adviser who can take away the mysteries of council and connect them directly to the right person or processes armed with the right approach.

Documents including feasibility studies prepared with the assistance of Sport Bay of Plenty, are now more detailed and prepared with an understanding of the Council’s requirements – for example demonstrated demand or need, and multi-use opportunities.

TCC and Sport BOP meet once a week and their relationship has gone from strength to strength.

The situation before

Tauranga City Council and Sport Bay of Plenty formed a new Strategic Partnership agreement in July 2005. The intent of the partnership was to enhance sport, recreation and leisure services in the district.
It was believed that by working together the two organisations could achieve the best possible sport and leisure outcomes for the Tauranga community.

Prior to the 2005 agreement the Council employed a Club Liaison Officer. When the staff member left, it was suggested by Sport Bay of Plenty that the Council add further funding to the strategic partnership agreement and contract Sport BOP to employ a full time staff member in an equivalent role.

Sport Bay of Plenty already had relationships in place with clubs and other contacts throughout the sports community, as well as experience in strategic planning and club development.
TCC was also aware of a perception about the Council’s regulatory role and that people would be more comfortable approaching Sport BOP for assistance.

The full-time position of Sports Development Co-ordinator (SDC) was created and funded by the Council. The Relationship Agreement and the Co-ordinator position have just been renewed for another three years through to June 2011. 

The role

The Sport Bay of Plenty SCD position is a dedicated role supporting and developing the sporting infrastructure of Tauranga. The staff member:

  • acts as a link between clubs and the Council for service delivery issues
  • works on club development in Tauranga, including advice and support
  • works with clubs to implement and monitor appropriate ‘Sportville’ models
  • identifies and responds to requests for community share agreements and evaluates those that fit council policy and priorities
  • provides advice on the efficient long term use of indoor/outdoor facilities
  • develops relationship agreements with sport and recreation clubs and associations.


What has been achieved from the Council's perspective

Tauranga City Council’s Recreation Relationship Team Manager Kiri Pope says the relationship between TCC and Sport BOP has vastly improved in the last three years. Local clubs have benefited as a result.
“Our two organisations now meet weekly and the relationship has gone from strength to strength,” she says.

 “We are able to communicate to Sport BOP what we require to progress and they then go back to clubs to explain things like processes and funding,” she says. “We are a team now. On occasions in the past there was conflict with Sport BOP advocating against the Council – now that has gone. We don’t always agree but we understand and appreciate our respective roles and work for the betterment of sport and recreation.”

 Kiri believes one of big advantages of the partnership is that clubs are often more comfortable working with Sport BOP than working directly with the Council. Sport BOP also has a wide range of contacts, as well as knowledge and expertise more directly related to sports development.

 “It is much more appropriate for clubs to get independent advice on things like feasibility studies when they are seeking funding from the Council,” she says.

 Kiri has noticed that proposals are now more detailed and demonstrate an understanding that the Council needs to see identified demand to be sure that resources are going to projects which benefit the wider community and support its multi-use policy. Sport BOP has brokered partnerships between organisations with similar visions that have lead to multi-use opportunities.

 Improved communication and understanding with clubs and associations has re-energised the TCC’s six-monthly Outdoor Facility Forum. “When I first started in 2005 the evenings were confrontational,” says Kiri. “Previously full of grilling and anti-council attacking, they have now evolved to a point where they are even fun. There is the odd curly question but relationships are good.”

 Kiri says both elected members and staff are happy with reports of Sport BOP’s work – one councillor recently describing it as ‘amazing’.

 

Sport Bay of Plenty's point of view

Sport BOP CEO Wayne Werder has seen solid progress with clubs. “Lots of clubs were getting frustrated. They didn’t understand the processes of council,” he says.

“The sporting sector relies on volunteers who generally work during the day. They don’t have time to work their way through council processes and even to find the right person to talk to. Sport BOP knows the right channels. We assist clubs by taking the mystery out of dealing with councils,” he says.

“Sport BOP also assists by being a central port of call for the Council rather than having to talk to a large number of different sports and organisations.”
Wayne says one of the biggest milestones of the relationship has been planning for the $44 million Tauranga Indoor Sport and Exhibition Centre. “We have talked to users about their needs, and made sure they are represented and get what they need,” he says.

Progress with the Sport and Exhibition Centre has been just one of many significant achievements reached as a result of the partnership.

 Other key achievements include:

  • assistance with the Mount Greens Sports project, a major ‘Sportville’ project which will see two bowling clubs and a croquet club combine in a shared facility. Sport BOP has been integral in leading discussions, advising about needs and trends in the codes and other aspects such as constitution development. ‘The Sportville’ concept is a Council iniatative based on its ‘Sportville’ policy developed in 2005.
  • completion of a feasibility study regarding BOP Cricket Association’s proposal to build four indoor lanes underneath the pavilion on Blake Park. Sport BOP presented the study to the Council who gave permission to build the lanes.
  • facilitation of a meeting between Papamoa Football and Papamoa Rugby regarding problems at Gordon Spratt Reserve – a major shared use sports field. An amicable outcome was achieved.
  • support of the Millennium Track Trust with fundraising and design.
  • club development assistance to over 40 sports clubs including Tauranga BMX, Synchronised Swimming, Inline Hockey, Matua Bowls, and Papamoa Bowls.


Conclusion

Tauranga City Council and Sport Bay of Plenty’s partnership has achieved significant outcomes for both organisations as well as for sports groups in the Tauranga region.
Improved communication and understanding between TCC and Sport BOP, and the provision of an informed and logical point of contact for the sports community have been the key to these successes.

As a result projects have progressed more amicably and efficiently. Relations can only go from strength to strength with such a solid foundation in place.


Contacts

For further information about this project contact Tauranga City Council’s Recreation Relationship Manager Kiri Pope, on (07) 577 7000, or Sport BOP Sports Development Coordinator Kim Nutbrown on (07) 578 0016.

 

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