Thursday, 10 September 2009

Sports Council Wales welcomes rethink over Anglesey closures

The Sports Council for Wales has welcomed moves to rethink leisure facility closures on Anglesey and is urging council leaders to keep the needs of the community at the heart of their investigation.

Wales’ national sporting organisation cites long term planning as the essential ingredient to ensure Welsh communities have access to quality sport and physical recreation facilities on their doorstep.

Sports Council for Wales Chief Executive, Dr Huw Jones said:

"We fear that with increased funding pressures, non-statutory provisions, such as sports facilities, are the first to be identified for cuts.

"The decision to close sports facilities may seem like the least difficult scenario when compared with other possibilities in the short term, though the detrimental, long term impact of such closures is potentially significant.

"One impact would be the loss of physical activity opportunities for young people who could become disenfranchised from their local communities and, as such, be less likely to develop into well rounded members of society."

The Sports Council acknowledges that decisions regarding closures are ultimately for local authorities to make. But it is advocating the need for informed decision making - based on the sport and recreational needs of the community.

SCW North Wales Regional Manager, Graham Williams added:

"Prior to any closures, we would expect a full assessment of the council’s portfolio of leisure buildings to include cost, condition, and crucially, usage to ensure that those facilities providing a valuable resource to the community are maintained.

"We strongly believe that local authorities need to plan how to maximise resources currently available to them and we would be pleased to offer further advice and guidance regarding long term planning."

The Sports Council recently launched its Time for Action campaign applauding the wider usage of school sport facilities to boost the nation’s physical activity and fitness levels.

Maximising the use of existing facilities, such as schools, is regarded as one possible approach to temper the financial squeeze currently felt by many local authorities such as Anglesey.


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