Skip to main content
  1. Home
  2. Content Vault
  3. Sport Wales Board Papers
  4. Minutes of the meeting of the Sport Wales Board on Friday 12 May 2023 at the Sport Wales National Centre

Minutes of the meeting of the Sport Wales Board on Friday 12 May 2023 at the Sport Wales National Centre

PRESENT: Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson (Chair), Pippa Britton (Vice Chair), Ashok Ahir, Ian Bancroft (Items 1-5.6), Hannah Bruce, Dafydd Davies (Items 1–5.5), Delyth Evans, Nicola Mead-Batten, Professor Leigh Robinson, Phil Tilley, Alison Thorne, Martin Veale

STAFF: Brian Davies (CEO), Graham Williams, Emma Wilkins, Jo Nicholas, Owen Lewis, James Owens, Craig Nowell, Liam Hull, Fay Benningwood, Claire Skidmore, Amanda Thompson (minutes)

EXTERNAL: Neil Welch (Welsh Government), Jac Chapman (Youth Panel), Eloise Stingemore (Step to Non Exec).

1.   Welcome/apologies for absence

The Chair welcomed all to the meeting. Apologies for absence were received from Rajma Begum and Judi Rhys.  Members congratulated Brian Davies on his formal appointment as CEO.

2.   Declaration of interests

Nicola Mead-Batten, TLT Solicitors act as a legal advisor to Sport England.

3.   Minutes of the last meeting dated 17 February 2023, action log and matters arising

The minutes of the previous meeting were accepted as a true and accurate record. Matters arising:

·       Staff had given positive feedback on the new financial system.

·       No formal decision had been announced regarding the Barnett Consequential with regards to funding to support the increased energy costs for swimming pools. The Welsh Government and Sport Wales continued to work on this.

4.   Chair & Executive Report – SW(23)14

The following items were highlighted and discussed:

WRU Independent Review enquiry: The first two reports had not been that comprehensive but the third one was expected to have more detail about progress made. Learning from this experience would be important especially in light of the current volatile climate regarding governance, standards and ethics.

·       There was concern about the capability of clubs to deal with such issues.

·       The complaints process, the role of Sport Wales within this sphere and a process for staff who may uncover concerns within partner organisations or even feel discriminated against by partner organisation staff was under consideration.

·       The Executive had clarified Sport Wales’ non-regulatory role with the Senedd Committee.

Principles driven approach: The panel supported by three Board members would review the final scoring shortly. There were more considerations to work through and the decision on level of investment and implementation approach would be brought back to the Board in July.

Capital Investment: An increased number of organisations were registering at EOI stage.

Teams Sports request to change the investment model: The Welsh Government’s Sports Division chaired the meeting on 5 May. All five sports have now signed their investment offers.

Commonweath Games Wales’ new Chair and CEO would meet with Sport Wales on 16 May.

Safeguarding: Awaiting DCMS issuing a strategy but there was no specific timeline for this. High amounts were spent in England on safeguarding measures but that level of resourcing was not available in Wales.

Hybrid working update: The cross-government working group looking at this matter focused more on facilities efficiency whereas Sport Wales’ priority was welling and culture. Original thoughts had changed in light of the cost of living situation and more staff returning to the office. The next staff survey would be issued over the summer. Space within SWNC had been reconfigured but not necessarily for hiring out purposes. An update was due to be brought back to the Board in September.

English Institute of Sport’s renaming to UK Sports Institute had been agreed in 2019 and no negative outcome was expected. This was a competitive market place as some NGBs preferred to go to private providers. Sport Wales welcomed being able to use other practitioners and the change helped clarify Sport Wales’ own role which had a good reputation.

Recruitment for the position of Director of Sport Systems would take place over the summer. Since the departure of the previous CEO, the two Assistant Directors had stepped up to cover the vacant role and were thanked for their contributions. LH was thanked for his work on the CEO recruitment process.

5.   Policy & Strategy

5.1        Canoe Wales Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) Recognition – SW(23)15

Following the Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) tragedy in West Wales in October 2021 and the resultant Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report, this paper made three recommendations:

(i)      Confirmation that the NGB Canoe Wales is to have Stand Up Paddleboarding recognised as a discipline of Canoeing.

(ii)     One-off funding support of up to £48k to Canoe Wales to aid the development of SUP safety in relation to the MAIB Report.

(iii)    Confirm that the Welsh Surfing Federation is derecognised of SUP and offered support to improve its governance through a full recognition review process.

Sport Wales would review its recognition policy to ensure there was more scrutiny of risk and safety and would check whether the sport should provide more information to its participants regarding the requirements for equipment, instructors, safeguarding, safety etc.

Welsh Surfing could appeal this decision but only on the grounds of the process and not the outcome. However the review had been conducted by an independent consultant and British Surfing were aware this would be the likely recommendation. Sport Wales would support Welsh Surfing develop their capabilities to ensure surfers were safeguarded. Sport Wales would again press for Canoe Wales and Welsh Surfing to agree an MOU. The two sports in England already had in one in place and both would be working together to deliver the necessary improvements. The support to Canoe Wales would also help the sport connect with British Canoeing.

Members approved the recommendations as outlined above.

5.2        British Ju Jitsu Derecognition – SW(23)16

Subsequent to the May 2023 Board Meeting, the Chair and Vice Chair and Chief Executive Officer have agreed the corrections outlined below.  These changes will also be communicated at the September 2023 Board meeting.  

This paper recommended the derecognition of the British Jiu-Jitsu Association Governing Body (BJJAGB).A recognition review was completed by Sport England who provided support and opportunities so that BJJAGB might meet the recognition standards, however this was not achieved. The decision to derecognise BJJAGB was agreed by the UK Recognition Panel. The recommendation to derecognise BJJAGB was agreed by the UK Recognition Panel.  

The sport of jiu-jitsu would continue to be recognised but without a recognised British NGB Sport Wales would not fund jiu-jitsu clubs through Be Active Wales or any other funding stream as jiu-jitsu was classed as a dangerous sport.

Members asked for the rationale for derecognition and to see detail of the risk assessment, also voicing equality and inclusion concerns.  The matter had been scrutinised in England but lacked the impact assessment specific to Wales. There was concern about leaving Welsh jiu-jitsu practitioners in the lurch but it was noted that no clubs had come forward to ask about setting up an NGB for Wales. As a non-regulatory body Sport Wales held an advisory role only. 

Members would wait to hear the opinions of all other HCSC Boards before making a decision. Members would wait to hear the opinions of all other HCSC Boards before publicising its decision.  

5.3        Touch Rugby & England Touch Association Recognition – SW(23)17

This paper recommended approval of recognition of Touch Rugby to be recognised as a unique sport and for the England Touch Association to be recognised as its national governing body in England.  Members asked to know what the opinions of Welsh Rugby Union and Welsh Rugby League were before taking a decision. 

5.4        SWNC Future Facility - Outline Business Case – SW(23)18

This report gave an update on the progress made by the Board’s Facilities Review Group and asked Members to consider the draft Outline Business Case (OBC) on the future facility needs of the SWNC and agree next steps.

·       Much had been learned from the visit to Sport Ireland’s facilities in Dublin and having Welsh Government’s representation there was too was beneficial.

·       The hub concept taken by Ireland would be equally appropriate for Wales. 

·       The criteria for the selection on a site for Option 4 (new build) needed further refinement and this would be discussed at length at the Board’s deep dive session (provisionally on 22 June). Political steer/influence plus the weighting of other priorities would be important. 

·       £5m was provisionally budgeted for site acquisition. 

Members approved the draft OBC and next steps.

5.5        National Centres – Facility Management Agreements – SW(23)19

Following the decision of the Sports Council of Wales Trust to enter into a partnership agreement with Parkwood Leisure Limited for the management of Plas Menai, legal advice proposed it was more appropriate to have separate FMAs for each of the properties. The key change in the FMA for Plas Menai was the reference to Parkwood Leisure Limited. No other substantive changes were made.  The Board was advised of the legal view on enforceability given that Sport Wales is the trustee of the Sports Council of Wales Trust. This was particularly relevant in relation to Sport Wales’s claim to proceeds of any future sale, under section 4.4. This legal advice was not new and was previously communicated to Sport Wales when the 2018 agreement was signed. 

Members approved the separate FMAs.

ACTION: As requested at the SCW Trust meeting, additional legal advice would be sought to clarify why Clause 4.4 might not be enforceable and the implications of that issue.

5.6        Inclusive Sport System - presentation

Members noted the content of the presentation. Discussion points:

·       To improve inclusivity partners have to work more collaboratively and Sport Wales will need to do more to ensure that happens. ISS has been a complex piece of work and momentum and motivation need to be maintained.

·       It takes time to create ambition and change the mindset.

·       A need to stimulate an ambition to do things differently balanced against putting partners off by asking for something transformational which may be daunting or overwhelming.

·       Suggestion of a pilot change management project with a NGB to free up staff time and reduce their costs, enabling more of the funding going to front line activities.

·       Encouragement of the sports sector supporting schools to grow teacher confidence, but without anything prescriptive that gives teaching staff yet more to do.  Sport Wales would put proposals to the Welsh Government before the summer recess.

5.7        Cyber/Data Security - presentation

Members noted the content of the presentation. The main concern was the highest risk of cyber attack coming ‘through the back door’ via one of the eleven NGBs based at SWNC. These were all supported by Technology Solutions in various degrees and staff had provided as much support as possible. To fully protect all eleven NGBs would cost an additional £300k. This remained a challenging issue when Sport Wales wanted the whole sports sector to be as secure as secure as possible.

6.   Finance

No formal papers were presented. A brief update was given to say Sport Wales was well within the annual carry over limit of 2% and that the final capital spend for 2022/23 was very close to the target.

Regarding the pension fund, traditionally there was always a sizeable deficit each year but 2022/23 would be in a unique position of showing an apparent surplus. Staff were consulting with actuaries to better understand this phenomenon. The same position was experienced by other public sector organisations.

7.   Board Groups and Standing Committee reports – SW(23)20

The report summarised the key issues and decisions taken by these meetings since the previous Board meeting in February.

·       Sport Partnership Project Board: Progress had been made in West Wales but had been disappointingly slow in the others and especially challenging with some partners who resisted change. However, since writing the report positive progress had been made in Central South. A CEO level meeting would be held in June with the Gwent local authority CEOs which Ian Bancroft would also attend. It was hoped Mid Wales would articulate their way forward by the deadline in early June.

·       Audit & Risk Assurance Committee: The outstanding reports from internal auditors Deloitte LLP had been received and circulated to ARAC members.

8.   Any Other Business

No further issues were raised.

9.   Date of Next Meetings

7 July, 22 September (Wrexham), 24 November 2023

The minutes were approved by the Board at their meeting on 7 July 2023.