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Highland High Life scheme receives healthy community accolade

28th January 2009

At a recent APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) Healthy Community Seminar, The Highland Council's High Life leisure access scheme was highlighted as a best practice example of how Scottish local authorities are trying to tackle obesity.

Last November, the Council fought off fierce competition to win the award for Outstanding Achievement in Sports, Leisure and Culture at the APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) Scotland's healthy community awards.

High Life is a system of affordable, all-inclusive access to Leisure Facilities. It is unique in terms of price, the range of activities included and the number of facilities included. The value for money it creates has encouraged mass, regular participation in activity, resulting in healthier lifestyles for many.

Other finalists in the Outstanding Achievement in Sports, Leisure and Culture category included: Argyll & Bute Council; Clackmannanshire Council; Dundee Council; South Lanarkshire Council; City of Edinburgh Council; and Moray Council.

Councillor Bill Fernie, Chairman of The Highland Council's Education, Culture and Sport Committee said: "I commend everyone involved with High Life from having the foresight and courage to introduce it in the early stages to running and administering it throughout the Highlands today. Those that use High Life know that it is a good value method of keeping active and healthy and I am delighted to see that the scheme is now receiving national acclaim as an example to other public leisure providers."

High Life has successfully turned around a situation of declining user numbers and income, raising user numbers by 32% and income by 70%. High Life has been introduced against a background of contracting budgets ~ no additional staff or marketing budgets have been available, requiring intense commitment from staff to introduce new technology and systems, while re-doubling enthusiasm to encourage customers to take up the new opportunities available. The undoubted risks of introducing High Life have been overcome by this commitment.

Receiving the award, Jonathan Warde Highland Council's Principal Facilities Officer said: "Judging by the competition we were up against, I knew that it would be difficult to win, but I am delighted we have and congratulate my team who have made this possible."

APSE's Principal Advisor for Scotland, Pat Taggart, praised the efforts of local authorities. He said: "These accolades are testament to the high standard of achievement being carried out by all Scottish councils. Behind the front of house staff in these services there is a whole army of people committed to delivering the very best in catering, cleaning, sports leisure and cultural services - all making a very valuable contribution to the health of our communities here in Scotland. Without their hard work and determination the public sector would not be able to meet the challenge of developing healthier communities for our future generations."

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