Delivering Sports Participation

April 3, 2012

The DeliveryDemon isn’t hugely fascinated by the 2012 Olympics. She didn’t bother with the ticket allocation fiasco. She hopes she won’t be in London, or near one of the few non-London venues during the event. She has no intention of going anywhere to peer through crowds at anyone trotting along with a badly designed bit of metalwork, which is the nearest many Brits will get to the Olympics. She certainly won’t be watching the Olympics on television, as she still hasn’t found a good reason to go out and buy one.

According to BBC talking heads, this means that the DeliveryDemon is not interested in sport. No matter that she walks for miles in the mountains and across country – that doesn’t count. Nor does bodyflying, an activity which tests muscles most people never get round to using. As soon as she finishes rehab from last year’s skydiving accident, she aims to be back flowriding and doing the occasional bit of running. But she’s not interested in sport. The DeliveryDemon was delighted when recovery reached a point that allowed her back in the gym and the pool – but that’s not sport. She’s looking forward to being able to take winter holidays with ice climbing and snowshoeing and cross country skiing and dog sledging – but according to those in the know, she’s not a sporty person. Obviously not, since she isn’t inclined to sit on the couch, munching and drinking, while watching others do something which may be active – or which may be as inactive as darts or snooker or angling or even poker, all of which are skilled, none of which contribute much to the body’s need for physical activity.

There’s a lot of justification of Olympic costs on the grounds that the fact of the Olympics will increase sports participation. It’s a pity that those who made the decisions to spend shed loads of public money didn’t do some realistic thinking:

  • What does participation actually mean?
  • How can you demonstrate that it’s happening?

Since the powers that spend our taxes clearly haven’t done this thinking, please allow the DeliveryDemon to suggest a few actions and measures.

Work is spread throughout the country so that people don’t have to spend so much time commuting that there’s no weekday time for anything else and no weekend time because weekends are used up with recovering from the week’s commute and doing all the chores there wasn’t time for during the week.

School offer a range of activities within the timetable with sufficient variety so that all children can particpate without feeling useless or stupid, and sufficient competition to give the competitive a way of measuring their success.

Sports funding includes reasonable support for public facilities which provide ready access for the public at times when people want to use them.

Bylaws and bureaucrats do not use health and safety as an excuse to prevent popular and emerging sports like inline skating and skateboarding and freerunning in public places.

Planning decisions require provision of public open spaces including green space, and sports facilties, with properly thought out arrangements for their long term upkeep.

That’s just for starters. The Olympics will long be remembered for the white elephant developments it leaves behind, but any effect it has on sports participation will be as transient as the annual blip  in tennis court use around the time of Wimbledon – but without Wimbledon’s annual influence. If the powers that be seriously want to influence public health for the better, they need to think more pragmatically than low usage monolithic development and nanny state pronouncements.


NOT a Good Delivery Service

March 31, 2011

The DeliveryDemon has been looking at what’s involved in renewing a UK passport. Even getting the forms is a bureacratic nightmare.

  • Option 1 is the ‘online’ application. What happens? You enter your details online, the passport service prints them off and posts them to you second class, with an SLA of a week, although the claim is that forms are posted within 24 hours. You then sign the documents and post them back with additional paperwork, and the subsequent process is likely to take in excess of 4 weeks.
  • Option 2 is to collect a form from a post office offering the Check and Send service – not all post offices offer this, and it costs £8.17 on top of the passport price. This option is likely to take in excess of 6 weeks.
  • Option 3 is to request an application form online. That can take 5 working days to get to you, and you still have to get on to the month-plus paperwork trail.
  • Option 4 is to phone and ask for a form. Again it can take 5 days to get to you before you get into the application process.

If there’s less than 2 months before you need your passport, there’s a ‘faster’ service. You first have to get an appointment, then travel to one of only 6 regional offices – particularly bad news for anyone living in Inverness given the distribution. It can take 2 weeks just to get an appointment. And even though you may have to travel half way across the country, you must not turn up more then 10 minutes before the appointment time, in case queues makes it appear that the service can’t handle the demand.

Once you get the apppointment, you can choose between the Fast Track, 1 week, service or the Premium, 1 day, service. With the Fast Track service, you must be at home to sign for the passport a week later. With the Premium service, you have 4 hours to wait once your forms have been checked and the cashier has given you a receipt – or overnight if you haven’t been able to get a morning appointment in all but 1 of the regional centres.

In summary:

  • Online application – £77.50, 5 weeks
  • Check and Send – £85.67, 6 weeks and 2 trips to the post office
  • Normal post – £77.50, a week to get the forms, processing time unspecified and high risk of loss.
  • Fast Track – £112, a trip to a Check and Send post office or a week to get the forms by any other means, 2 weeks to get an appointment, a day to travel to the appointment, a week to wait, and a day at home waiting for the passport to be delivered.
  • Premium – £129, a trip to a Check and Send post office or a week to get the forms by any other means, 2 weeks to get an appointment, a day to travel to the appointment and potentially another day to pick up the passport if you can’t get an early enough appointment for same day collection.

The passport service are investing in sexy technology like phone apps and online tracking of progress. Just how much effort would it take to provide a basic online PDF application form which would deliver a full week’s benefit for most applicants? Priorities?


Delivering According to Priorities

March 30, 2009

It’s a good thing to do away with discrimination in the job market, more so during an economic downturn when the sheer volume of jobseekers gives the recruiter so many adequately qualified people to choose from that discrimination in individual cases becomes virtually impossible to prove. So, with the ever increasing number of jobseekers in the UK it might seem like a good time to ensure that none of those millions qualified candidate is denied a job on the basis of, say, religion or gender.

But why, oh why, has the government given priority and Parliamentary time to THIS http://tinyurl.com/c8hf46 , a single job opportunity which becomes available only a handful of times a century, when there’s a crying need to deal with the pressing economic conditions hitting MILLIONS of jobs at the moment?