Wednesday 1 July 2009

Fun fun fun, in the sun sun sun...

I was moved to post on this by Yousuf's rather one-sided political polemic on tennis courts. Of course it would be nice to have loads of local facilities available at low or no cost. The reality is that there is a cost in providing services, and most likely this cost would be met by Councils, not the Scottish Government. I'm not going to defend any Council's record, but a bit of understanding that "free to use" does not mean "cost-free" would be helpful.

On a slightly more political slant, I would point out that Labour have an abysmal record in selling off playing fields and pitches across the country. In Glasgow, the cost of hiring facilities in PFI schools is prohibitive to many community groups. The need for form filling and applications for funding also puts off informal users. There are pitches all over the city in disrepair due to lack of maintence over the years.

I hate to go to a in my day type rant, but I spent huge chunks of my summer climbing trees, playing with friends, exploring, and injuring myself in new and creative ways (concussion and hospitalisation from falling from the monkey bars being a particular high point). There was no tennis, no swimming pool in my town (it got built mid-high school), and where I lived was miles away from the fairly limited sports centre the town had. It sounds archaic, but we made our own fun.

The spirit of this seems to be alive and well in the children in my street who, after finding chalk inadequate, have gotten hold of some masking tape and lined themselves a tennis court. I'm very impressed! It's gotten a wee bit squint since the bin lorry ran over it this morning, but you get the point.

Grampa Simpson style rant over, there are loads of organised activities going on in the East End of Glasgow, provided by a number of organisations funded in a multitude of ways. The East End Youth Network has a programme of events, with all manner of sports and arts activities for young people. The organisations involved have worked really hard to put together programmes of events, so there's always something to do! I wish I was still young enough to take part, but I hope as many young people as possible take up the opportunities open to them this summer.


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Yousuf Hamid said...

I think the most troubling part of these statistics is that 10 Councils have no facilities at all.

I would like much more than 4 councils to provide free tennis for under 16's but even subsidised facilities would be a start. Thank god for Glasgow Council, eh :P

You will know the problems of inactivity in the East End far better than me but are you really sggesting that these facilities being available and accessible would not help this?

In terms of the SG what we need are statuary provisions for sport to really mandate councils, if the Government really do care about 2014 that is.

BellgroveBelle said...

Yousuf - when I was doing the 5K last weekend, I ran past plenty of people in their jammies, walking the dog and having a smoke on their way for a roll'n'sausage.

We're a long long way from reaching folk who need to get active, and I don't believe a few free tennis sessions will be enough to do it. It will most likely help people who are already active.

If the Scottish Government wants to make free tennis (for example) a priority, it should be funded. Given the £500m of cuts coming from Westminster, I think we have to choose our priorities rather more carefully than that.

The SNP Government does care very deeply about 2014. I don't see what makes you doubt that, other than them not blindly taking on every one of your boss's suggestions. The Commonwealth Games is an excellent opportunity to promote Scotland to the world, not least starting next year in Delhi.

Anonymous said...

yousaf's comments highlight Labour's approach to local government - make everything a statutory commitment! This approach is useless as its takes away any real control from local authorities and results in a centralised state run from Edinburgh. It simply shows that Labour are not prepared to trust even their own councillors.

BellgroveBelle said...

Anonymous - yes, that's true. Labour in the Council even admit that their colleagues were guilty of that when in power.

Statutory measures in this particular field would be meaningless given the huge variation of circumstances (size, budgets, arrangements for sport) in Councils across the country.