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Minutes of the Sport Wales Board meeting held on Wednesday 7 July 2021 at the Sport Wales National Centre

Present: Lawrence Conway (Chair), Pippa Britton (Vice Chair), Rajma Begum, Alison Thorne, Ashok Ahir, Dafydd Trystan Davies, Delyth Evans, Martin Veale, Judi Rhys, Nicola Mead-Batten, Hannah Murphy, Phil Tilley, Professor Leigh Robinson

Staff: Sarah Powell (CEO), Graham Williams, Brian Davies, Liam Hull, Rachel Davies, Owen Hathway (Item 4.1-4.2), Richard Dando (Item 4.4-4.7), James Owens (Item 4.5-4.6), Amanda Thompson (minutes). Observers: Emma Wilkins, Paul Kindred (Welsh Government)

1.      Introduction/apologies for absence

The Chair welcomed all to the meeting. Apologies for absence were received from Ian Bancroft. Emma Wilkins would join Sport Wales as the Director of Finance & Business Services in August. Sarah Powell was leaving in the autumn to take up the position of CEO with British Gymnastics.

2.      Declaration of Interest


Phil Tilley for his position as a Trustee of Newport Live. He had stepped down from the Board’s Facilities Review Group on a temporary basis. He was not present for item 6.2.

Sarah Powell for her forthcoming position as CEO of British Gymnastics.

3.      Minutes of the last meeting of 20 May 2021, action log, tracker and matters arising


The minutes of the last meeting were approved as a true and accurate record.

Matters arising: DTD chaired the first meeting of the Youth Panel as the Board’s representative. Fourteen young people had joined the panel (ages ranging from 15-25 years and from a wide range of backgrounds and regions in Wales).  Their discussions focused on inequalities and the impact of Covid19 on young people, both the challenges and new opportunities. The panel would shortly appoint a Chair and Deputy Chair. Sport Wales’ People Development Lead supported the Panel.

4.      Policy and Strategy

4.1        Programme of Welsh Government – SW(21)28

Members noted the report. PK added that Sport Wales was seen as a key stakeholder with a business plan that was well aligned to the programme.

The Chair and CEO would ask for a meeting with Lynne Neagle MS, Deputy Minister for Mental Health & Wellbeing and Chair of the Healthy Weight Healthy Wales (HWHW) Board.

Sport Wales’ operation was aligned with the Future Generations Act, and it was important for the organisation to stay focused on delivering its strategy and not be pulled off course.

To have world class facilities in Wales would require a long-term investment approach by the Welsh Government.

The changes to planning consent guidelines green space and the link to health and fitness had to be taken into consideration.  Sport Wales would be monitoring this through its work within the HWHW agenda.

4.2        Funding evaluation – SW(21)29

This report and presentation updated the Board on the evaluations undertaken of Sport Wales’ funding streams over the past 12 months. The reflection log approach had enhanced the understanding around the impact of investments and had encouraged a more learning-led approach within the sector. Sport Wales was responding to the learning as evidenced by the introduction of the Be Active Wales Fund (BAWF) which specifically targeted the most deprived areas of Wales.  The CrowdFunder approach would help Sport Wales target a wider reach of applicants.

Less experienced applicants had missed the support from their local authority development staff (furloughed or repurposed).

There was a growth of community sport groups who were not affiliated to NGBs. It meant a variance in the standard of governance and fundraising ability.

High-risk sports activity must be affiliated to be eligible to receive funding.

It was possible to draw out the number of people impacted rather than just the number of clubs and the investment per head (on a local authority level).

It was possible to monitor the type of inequality strands and to analyse this to ensure there was a fair spread. There was some narrative missing with regards to disability sport which OH would investigate.

The percentages should be augmented by more detail of the impact on people.

The evaluation process should also capture intelligence around the growth in the gig economy, the long-term sustainability of new enterprises and the wider relationships.

With regards to those who had expressed dissatisfaction with the funding process these were mostly from rejected applicants.  Successful applicants thought the process and communications were clear and easy to use.

Every aspect of the funding programmes was provided bilingually. However there had been a low response from predominantly Welsh speaking areas of Wales and from applicants using the Welsh language for reasons as yet unknown.

For rejected applications support was provided to help them understand the reasons for rejection and how to improve it and reapply.

The Freelancer fund had been a one-off payment only, specific to the period of closure last winter. Any further funding for the private sector would be at Welsh Government’s discretion.

A wider strategic discussion about the future economy and how to redefine and prioritise within the sport sector was asked for, though there were differences of opinion as to whether this should happen now or after a period of ‘settling down’ after the pandemic passed.

The EDI group were thinking about the ways in which barriers – including the application process itself - might be removed to allow funds to go direct to targeted groups.

PK confirmed the Welsh Government were currently looking at Sport Wales’ bid for an additional £4m for BAWF community support.

The process of designing and delivering six new funding streams, all within the existing staffing resource, had been a considerable achievement. The Chair thanked the staff who had delivered this substantial volume of work whilst working remotely.

4.3        Tokyo Olympics & Paralympics 2020 update

BD gave a presentation to update Board Members on the forthcoming Olympics. Team GB would include 29 Welsh athletes of which 14 were female and 15 male, plus 5 support staff. The Vice Chair had received confirmation that the Paralympics would go ahead. The BOC’s Performance Hub would be based at SWNC. A briefing would go to the Welsh Government and their attention also brought to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham for 2022.

4.4        Transgender Inclusion in Sport – SW(21)31

This paper outlined the journey of the Sports Councils Equality Group (SCEG)’s review of its Transsexual People in Competitive Sport - Domestic Guidance and the research into trans inclusion within sport. The HCSC and UK Sport Boards were being asked to consider and approve the recommendations from SCEG on the content and publication of the revised guidance document. Next steps included SCEG supporting staff and the sports sector to understand the guidance. Sport Wales Board Members had attended the online training sessions provided by SCEG and Carbhill Consulting which they had found very informative.


How to support trans inclusive spaces within sports facilities and communicate this.

Support for Board Members and all those at the front of the debate in the public domain.

The HCSCs had the necessary levers to ensure sports took the matter seriously.

Legal advice had been gained by both Sport England and Sport Wales. Should there be criminal justice devolution then the policy may require revision.

The policy should cover all trans and non-binary people but most references within the document were to transwomen.

How sports would make decisions on this matter was not known at this juncture.

The policy would benefit from collective evaluation perhaps sooner than 2-3 years away.

Transgender inclusion to fall under the remit of the Welsh Government’s Equality Plan.

Members approved the recommendations in the paper with the caveat that once feedback was given there may be tweaks to the final version of the guidance document.

4.5        Busniess Plan 2021/22 Q1 report – SW(21)32

This paper updated Board on quarter one 2020-21 activity and delivery against the business plan, and outlined future actions developed from that work.

Over the past quarter the high-level delivery actions focused on Active Education, the Institute’s service delivery and the Sport Partnerships. EDI related work would be a priority for the next quarter. The reflective practice was being modified so that monthly reflections would focus on:

  • more in-depth discussion and challenge around specific business plan priorities with each area of work reviewed at depth at least twice per year.
  • more forward planning discussions and Leadership team review of the forward planning log developed by the Communications team.

4.6        Appeals and Complaints policies – SW(21)33

The appeals and complaints policies had been reviewed to align with the new investment approach. Legal advice plus comparison with the policies of the other HCSCs had been carried out. The appeals policy addressed concerns raised regarding any of Sport Wales’ funding streams. The complaints policy looked at complaints from individuals who were dissatisfied with the service provided by Sport Wales or if they felt they had been treated unfairly.

 It was recommended that the appeals process be changed to enable appellants to have their case heard by Sport Resolutions. (No fee to be charged to the appellant.)

For the complaints policy the recommended changes were to introduce a designated Complaints Officer (to be performed by the Head of Corporate Performance), to more clearly set out what was covered by the policy and its reporting policy, to have a designated email for quicker responses, and to incorporate information requests and personal data complaints (with different procedures).

The language in the policies should be sampled to ensure it can be easily understood. It was agreed to add delineating complaints and involving a Board representative if it was deemed necessary on a case-by-case basis. (Any complaint against the CEO automatically involved the Chair.)

ACTION:           LH to revise the document and sign off by email after this meeting. Going ahead with the contract for Sport Resolutions was approved.

4.7        Recognition of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – SW(21)34

This paper made recommendations on the applications for the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitso to be recognised and from the National Governing Body (NGB) UK Brazilian Jiu Jitso Association. The recommendations were approved.

5.      Young Ambassadors Steering Group report

The report was noted. Going forward, this item on the agenda would be replaced by the Youth Panel.

6.      Board Groups & Standing Committees

6.1        Summary of Sub Groups – SW(21)35

The report summarised the topics discussed at the recent meetings of the Sport Partnerships Project Board, the Diversity Group, the Audit & Risk Assurance Committee and the Facilities Review Group. Members noted the report. 

6.2        Sport Wales National Facilities Review: Plas Menai – SW(21)36

The Chair formally thanked FRG members and staff for the substantial amount of work that had been progressed. Board Members discussed the future management options at their deep-dive session on 28 June in readiness for this paper and recommendations. There were no issues to raise.

Plans were in place to engage the Welsh Government’s politicians and officials.

Capital investment would have a critical impact on new service development opportunities and on the type of partner Sport Wales would be able to attract.

Members approved the recommendation to proceed with the innovative commissioning partner with negotiation (CPN-contract procurement through negotiation), with the caveat that a joint venture had not been discounted and remained a reserve option.

6.3        Audit & Risk Assurance Committee (ARAC) Annual Report 2021/22 – SW(21)37

Members noted the report and thanked Independent Member Gareth Jones who would finish his second term of office in August. A replacement for him was under consideration.

7.      Finance, Risk & Assurance

7.1        Statutory Accounts 2020/21: SCW Consolidated; Trust; Lottery – SW(21)38

A note had been added to the post-balance sheet regarding:

  • The substantial decrease in the carbon footprint would be off-set by the increases at private dwellings when staff worked from home.
  • Cooke & Arkwright have removed the uncertainty statement from their valuation this year, so the Emphasis of Matter that was included in last year’s accounts has been removed.
  • Pension assurance statement was awaited though there had been a verbal indication that an emphasis of matter was unlikely. The auditors were content and once received the Auditor General would sign off.

The Chair of ARAC thanked management and staff for their remarkable achievement in getting the accounts done on time and without issues during the difficult circumstances of the pandemic.

7.2        Audit Wales – ISA260 Audit of Accounts Report and Management Letter - Sports Council for Wales and Sports Council for Wales Trust

Members noted the report and no issues were raised.

7.3        National Audit Office – ISA260 Sport Council for Wales Lottery Distribution Account’s Audit Completion Report

Members noted the report and no issues were raised.

APPROVAL: Members approved the Statutory Accounts 2020/21 (SCW Consolidated; Trust; Lottery).

7.4        Finance 2021/22 Q1 report

Members noted the report and no issues were raised.

8.      Chair & Executive Report

8.1        Chair & Executive report

The additional funding for the ‘Summer of Fun’ was £150k to ACW and £300k to Sport Wales which would be used on the wider Enhancing the School Day work.

Digital transformation continued as a longer-term development piece with multiple projects in the flow.  Decisions to be made on funding and resource alignment further ahead.

With the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics commencing in a few weeks, the UK sports sector was experiencing an increase in cyber-attacks. These may target organisations lower down the chain who were less well defended than bigger bodies. A dramatic increase in attempts to get into staff accounts at Sport Wales had already been seen and all staff and Board Members had received security advice from the Information Security Lead. He was working on the follow up from the Strategic Leaders Cyber Resilience Seminar and the risk level recorded on the Corporate Risk Register would be elevated.

Sport Wales EDI survey: The results of the recent internal EDI survey had been shared with staff and the Board. Learning from the findings would be a priority, including the review of policies and emphasis on staff taking personal responsibility for their behaviours.

Members asked for the Chair & Executive report to be returned to earlier on the agenda, with the caveat that the Chair would ensure time allowed for discussion was strictly applied.

9.      Any Other Business

The Chair thanked staff for ensuring that this hybrid meeting went smoothly with no technical problems. The format would be repeated in September (subject to any revision of restrictions).

10.  Date of next meetings

17 September, 25 November 2021.

The dates had been set for Board meetings in 2022: 17 February, 13 May, 15 July, 16 September, 25 November 2022.

The minutes were approved at the Board’s meeting on 17 September 2022.