Local authority leaders have called on the Government to make the most of Team GB’s success at the Tokyo Olympics by investing in grassroots and community sport facilities.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has said that 63% of main sports halls and 60% of swimming pools are past their expected lifespans or overdue refurbishment.
However, they warn that cash-strapped councils are having to divert funding from sports to statutory services such as adult social care and children’s services.
Sport England has provided support and investment in infrastructure, but their funds are oversubscribed. The LGA is calling for the Government to provide a second round of National Leisure Recovery Funding – worth £700m – to enable facilities to remain open.
The LGA also called for longer-term capital investment in sports facilities through the upcoming Spending Review.
‘The country is hugely proud of the tremendous achievements by our athletes at the Tokyo Olympics. Their success could lead to a legacy of inspiring young people to take up sport and healthy lifestyle habits,’ said Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, chair of the LGA’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board.
‘We must take action now if we want to ensure this success is repeated in the future, and that young people from all backgrounds can aspire to compete in future Games.
‘Local leisure facilities play a vital role in ensuring our communities can get healthy and active, but they are also the starting point in discovering bright new sporting talent, that can go on to represent Team GB on the world stage.
‘Council funded facilities also offer people from all backgrounds the chance to access a range of free or low-cost activities in a safe and supported environment, which is vital in enabling residents living in deprived areas to be active and to level up opportunities across the country.’
Photo: Sayuri Inoue / Shutterstock.com