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Cross party report: too few community sports facilities in the UK

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A cross-party committee of MPs has expressed its concern over the declining number of community sports facilities in the UK.

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee said it was concerned that there are “too few facilities to enable people easily to participate in sport” and recommended a government review into how local communities can better secure the futures of playing fields and facilities and prevent unnecessary closures.

The comments were made as part of the committee’s Women and Sport report, published today (25 July).

The committee said the failure to increase the number of facilities and improve their quality could lead to more pressures being put on the NHS to treat preventable lifestyle diseases.

“We acknowledge the pressures on local authority budgets, but we fear that a diminution in the number and quality of sporting facilities will simply increase the need for more expensive health and social care interventions in a less fit population,” the committee said in its report conclusions.

“We recommend a review of programmes such as the Community Right to Bid, to enable local people more easily to defend the open spaces and facilities that they value.”

The committee also encouraged communities, clubs, sports governing bodies and Sport England to take a more creative approach to providing facilities that are affordable and flexible.

“Bringing dilapidated and outdated facilities up to standard progress is likely to be slow,” the committee said.

“Enterprising people are trying out alternatives to traditional facilities, and we commend all these efforts to bring cheap and accessible sport to people.

“Sport England is already working with a number of these people, but we recommend that Sport England draws up a strategy to assist them with advice, small grants and to spread best practice, as locally organised, locally promoted sport seems to us the most promising way of increasing participation.”

To read the full Culture, Media and Sport Committee report, click here to download it in PDF form.

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A cross-party committee of MPs has expressed its concern over the declining number of community sports facilities in the UK.
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