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AALA Licensing – AIM Member Survey Results

What our members said

We recently sent out a member survey to gauge members views on the AALA Licensing review and we had an excellent response rate with members submitting their views to the three options posed by the HSE.  For those of you not familiar with this, the HSE have set up a review to the current AALA licensing scheme and were asking all providers to respond.

  • Option 1 – Retain the AALA regulations and current licensing scheme underpinned by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and increase fees
  • Option 2 – Retain the AALA regulations and current licensing scheme underpinned by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, extend the activities in-scope and increase fees.
  • Option 3 – Removal of the AALA regulations and move to an industry-led; not-for-profit accreditation scheme underpinned by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, to provide assurance to users of outdoor activities

The HSE survey is now closed and the HSE have advised that all responses will be analysed and will engage further with stakeholders to further develop the preferred option. http://www.hse.gov.uk/aala/

As AIM is a membership community providing Public and Employers liability cover to activity providers we have also submitted our own response. Responses from the members can be viewed here.  If you require further information about the survey please do not hesitate to contact me on cathy.watson@rmml.com

Mount Batten Watersports & Activities Centre

AIM Member Profile

Established in 1999 on the site of a former RAF base in Plymouth, the Mount Batten Watersports and Activities Centre is one of the foremost Outdoor Education centres in the South West.

It opens all year round to provide a wide range of watersports and land-based adventure activities for individuals, groups and affiliated clubs and associations. Located on the tidal estuary of the Plymouth Sound, the centre facilities include accommodation for up to 60 guests, boat storage and a waterside cafe bar that is open to the public.

Watersports offered include canoeing, coasteering, kayaking, sailing, stand-up paddleboarding and windsurfing. Land-based activities within easy reach of the centre include caving, gorge walking and rock climbing on limestone crags.

School groups visit the centre throughout the year and travel from as far afield as North Wales, Lincolnshire and Cornwall. Currently most groups that visit are from secondary schools but in recent years the centre has seen an increase in the number of primary schools attending, particularly from the immediate catchment area in and around Devon.

From Not-For-Profit to Charitable Status

The centre operates on a long-term lease from Plymouth City Council and has successfully operated as a “not-for-profit” company for many years. It has recently completed a transition to charitable status and now operates as the Mount Batten Centre Charity Trust. Alex King, Centre Manager, says that the prime reason for becoming a charity was to access a wider range of potential funding sources:

“With our newly established Charity status we will be able to access funding and grants, and benefit from tax relief, enabling us to increase our offering and make further improvements to the Centre, ensuring that all of our activities continue to be for the benefit of the Plymouth, and wider, community.”

Alex explained that the process of changing to charitable status was not without its challenges and he would be happy to offer advice to any other centre considering such a move. The process took many months and was not at all straightforward. Some of the centre’s trading activities have stayed outside the charity within a not-for-profit company that operates in parallel to accommodate some of the hospitality services that they provide (bar, weddings, parties, etc.).

One interesting outcome from their new charitable status has been the innovative “Recycle for Rewards” scheme that they have launched with Radio Plymouth to encourage local Primary Schools to earn credit for their school through recycling projects. Credits gained by the schools can then be “spent” on activities at the centre.

Flexible Staff Structure

The centre operates a flexible staff structure with a core team of 10 full-time permanent staff supplemented by a large number of freelance, casual and part-time workers. They employ a full-time Hospitality Manager, a part-time Housekeeper and up to 18 additional hospitality or housekeeping staff on a casual / part-time basis. They have a database of over 70 local Instructors who may help them as required throughout the seasonal peaks and troughs of the year. The centre can have up to 240 guests on the water and activity staff numbers can range from two to 32 per day.

Why AIM?

The Mount Batten Watersports and Activities Centre moved to AIM in 2014. In addition to Public and Employers’ Liability cover of £10m and Professional Indemnity cover of £2m, AIM provides property cover for a large fleet of boats and equipment and also arranges the insurance of their 7-seater vehicle with a specialist motor insurer.

Alex King, Centre Manager, values the industry knowledge and expertise within AIM and said that this was a major factor that was considered along with cost savings when making the decision to move from their previous insurer. He appreciates the sense of community that is AIM and the opportunities for Members to help each other. One such opportunity arose recently when Alex, whose previous experience includes the management of a group of UK dry-ski slopes, was invited to share his winter-sports technical expertise with a fellow AIM Member. This was to provide an external review of their procedures relating to a recently acquired dry-ski slope which they had added to their range of managed activities.

Other AIM community events include Member seminars, the AGM and the election of AIM directors. Alex says that he has not been disappointed since joining AIM and appreciates the added value that is provided by a “flexible approach with a personal touch”.

More info: www.mount-batten-centre.com

How Stean Gorge – New Member Profile

How Stean Gorge is a unique natural attraction and presents an exciting opportunity for those looking to try some gorge walking, scrambling or other outdoor activity set in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales.  The gorge contains a maze of footpaths, caves and potholes which have been hollowed out of the limestone rock by the constant water flow over thousands of years.

Stan and his wife Ann Beer offer a range of activities including Via Ferrata (since 2009), gorge walking, caving and canoeing plus much more.  There are also camping facilities, a café and shop available to visitors on site.
The Mutual were happy to assist How Stean Gorge with cover for the public and employer’s liability element of the business, together with buildings, contents and activity equipment. They had been part of the JLT scheme that was unable to continue to offer cover and left many activity providers seeking an alternative at short notice.

The activities that How Stean Gorge provide are similar to those the Mutual is presented with regularly, but the location and setting are certainly something strikingly different.

How Stean truly look to utilize the natural environment to provide access to some amazing activities for groups and individuals alike.

Stan Beer, the owner of How Stean Gorge, requested the quotation from the Mutual and had this to say:

 “We were pleased with the knowledge and understanding of this industry by those dealing with our enquiry and are happy that our entire basket of cover is with this professional provider.”

For more information on How Stean Gorge please contact them by visiting:- www.howstean.co.uk

If like How Stean you are an activity provider who needs cover for a range of activities and is in a challenging or possibly unusual location then please don’t hesitate to contact us for a quote and discuss your requirements.