THE public is to have access to a raft of new sports facilities, after the city council announced plans to double the number of school “hubs”.
Badminton courts, football pitches and even swimming pools in selected schools throughout Edinburgh will open their doors to the public as part of the proposals – with discounted rates on offer for youth groups in an attempt to drive up participation.
The news, which comes on the back of a £90,000 funding boost from Sportscotland, will see at least three new community hubs become available to clubs and organisations across the city, with the schools involved opening up their facilities to outside groups after hours and at weekends.
Among the secondary schools being considered for the scheme is Liberton High, in a move that marks yet another step forward for an institution still reeling from the tragic death of schoolgirl Keane Wallis-Bennett in April last year, after she was crushed by a falling wall in the PE block.
Leith Academy, which boasts a swimming pool among other facilities, and Queensferry High are also being looked at, with the latter part of wider plans for an area-based sports hub set for Kirkliston and South Queensferry.
Council chiefs said the three existing hubs – at Forrester/St Augustine’s, Broughton and the Royal High – had seen a rise in sports participation of more than 50 per cent.
Official figures for the past three years show the scheme has provided a financial boost to city coffers of more than £800,000, as clubs and organisations rush to hire out facilities.
Councillor Paul Godzik, the city’s education convener, said the figures demonstrated the “huge benefit” of having sports hubs based in schools.
He said: “Keeping our young people fit and healthy is really important and the increase in activity mirrors our successful school PE figures.
“Schools are often the facilities in any community that are best suited to handle the needs of local residents, so it’s important we ensure we continue to make the best use of them to support these communities.
“I’m delighted to see an increase in local groups using these community hubs – we now have over 60 different clubs taking advantage of the great facilities on offer.
“These range from more traditional sports like football and basketball to ultimate frisbee and cheerleading, and also include several disabled clubs, which shows the diverse nature of sport being accommodated.”
James Steel, national manager of Sportscotland, said: “The development of school-based community sports hubs has been a great example of the benefits of adopting a simple approach.
“It has also shown us some great examples of youth leadership in a school environment connecting with club activities in the community space in the evenings. We are all working towards the creation of a sporting system that connects club and community with school environments.”