Mapp quits after row with Culture minister

From David Bond, Daily Telegraph
Derek Mapp fired a bitter parting shot at the Government last night after he was forced to resign as chairman of Sport England in a row over the future direction of the funding body. “I was mandated to produce an agenda which I was delivering on but now that has been changed and I have been dumped on,” Mapp said.

Mapp, pictured, who was appointed last October to the £32,000-a-year, two-day role, quit after a showdown meeting with James Purnell, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, on Wednesday night.

Although Mapp insists he was willing to push through reforms at Sport England, Purnell told him that he did not believe he was fully behind his plans to shift the organisation’s resources away from active pastimes, such as jogging and walking, to more traditional sports.

“I am bound to say I think it’s unfair,” said Mapp, a millionaire who made his money in the brewing industry.

“He has been impetuous in taking this decision and has not consulted with as many stakeholders as he should have done. He is clearly much more of an autocrat than a man of consensus.”

In a statement, Purnell’s department announced he had appointed Richard Lewis, the former executive chairman of the Rugby Football League, to carry out a full review of Sport England’s funding priorities.

He had already told Mapp in a meeting on Nov 14 that the organisation, which distributes £238 million a year to grassroots sport projects, would have to re-focus on community sports, a directive backed up in a letter on Nov 23.

Although Mapp says he was starting to deliver on his pledge to get two million more people off the couch and taking part in physical activity by 2012, Purnell believes the job of tackling obesity should be financed by the Department of Health.

That, he says, would free up more money for sports’ governing bodies to develop a world-class community sports legacy – one of the key pledges London’s bid team made when they won the right in July 2005 to stage the 2012 Olympics in London.

Purnell and his advisers, however, were dismayed to find Sport England’s money for governing bodies was being slashed to help pay for the spiralling costs of staging the Games. He said: “We should not be cutting sports’ money when we have the Olympics coming.”
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