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  • 17 April 2015 00:00
  • in Government
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Funding for sports by councils cut by £42m

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According to a BBC survey, the council’s sport and leisure budget has been axed by more than £42m since 2010.

Is there a gap between the reduction of funding into sport and recreation and the ever increasing ambitions to create a healthier nation?

This is an extremely worrying decrease of investment, especially with the consequential impact this will have on communities’ health and fitness levels.

Facilities that are crucial to the development of grass roots level participation all the way through to Elite athlete progression are being axed, reducing the activity opportunities for many people.

Emma Boggis, chief executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance which represents sports governing bodies in the UK, said: "Limiting access to leisure facilities will result in greater inactivity and bigger costs to the NHS in terms of tackling conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and depression."

In the West Midlands, which saw £9.6m of cuts, the region's only 50m pool - in Coventry - was among the facilities to face the axe. The latter alongside the national decline in swimming participation does not bode well for the future of the sport.

In other regions, Sheffield lost the Don Valley Stadium, where Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill had trained, creating lost opportunities for those who want to follow in their role models footsteps.

David Moorcroft, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist and former chief executive of UK Athletics, said: "In times of cutbacks to public services, rightly or wrongly, sport and leisure is one of the first things to get cut.”

"It's really unfortunate because the health and happiness of the nation and communities is based around being able to access facilities that encourage people to take physical activity.”

"Ultimately, if we are trying to reduce obesity among young people, you can't really have clubs and volunteers doing all that work. Once a facility is lost, it's gone forever.”

Emma Boggis said she had "some sympathy" with local authorities "and the extreme financial pressures they are under...But reducing investment in sport and in leisure facilities is storing up problems for the longer-term." 

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