Glasgow spends DOUBLE the amount on sport than Edinburgh - here's how we hope to change that

The main body charged with delivering sporting services to residents in Edinburgh has been battling against chronic underfunding for a generation, an investigation by the Edinburgh Evening News has found.

Thursday, 29th August 2019, 11:12 am
Edinburgh today sits last among Scotlands big four cities for spending per visitor to sport and leisure facilities, with Glasgow spending twice as much per head as the Capital does.

The Evening News can reveal that Edinburgh Leisure, the arm’s-length provider in charge of all the city’s publicly owned leisure centres, gyms, swimming pools and golf courses – received £12.5 million in 1998 from the council, while today the organisation receives only £7m a year.

And when that £5.5m drop in funding is adjusted for inflation, the loss over the 21-year period actually tops £14.6m.

In addition, Edinburgh today sits last among Scotland’s big four cities for spending per visitor to sport and leisure facilities, with Glasgow spending twice as much per head as the Capital does.

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Edinburgh today sits last among Scotlands big four cities for spending per visitor to sport and leisure facilities, with Glasgow spending twice as much per head as the Capital does.

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This is how many Edinburgh football pitches have closed in the last 20 years

The graph showed that Glasgow city spent £4.75 per visitor; Aberdeen City £3.20 per visitor; Dundee £2.46 per visitor and Edinburgh £2.20. Edinburgh was 51p below the national average per visitor.

Colin McMillan, chairperson of Clubsport Edinburgh, said: “It’s shocking to hear that the council’s spend per visitor to sport and leisure facilities in Edinburgh is lower than any other major city in Scotland.

“This position no doubt will only have got worse since the report was written, what with council spend on sport going down in a staggering way over the past two decades and facility hire prices going up over the years.

The city has started to open up school sports facilities out of hours to the general public, but there is concern about the often high cost of booking them and how many facilities remain locked up at weekends and on evenings.

The lack of financial support for sports provision was also pointed out by ClubSport Edinburgh’s research which shows that for every £1 given in grants to local sports clubs, £36 was given in grants to arts and culture projects in the city.

That figure does not include the council’s spending on Edinburgh Leisure, which is by far and away its biggest investment in sport, or the cost of running and maintaining leisure and cultural facilities or grants to the city’s festivals.

The city has started to open up school sports facilities out of hours to the general public, but there is concern about the often high cost of booking them and how many facilities remain locked up at weekends and on evenings.

Pledge your support by signing our petition HERECouncillor Hal Osler, who sits on the city council’s culture and communities committee, said: “We need to increase the funding to community-based projects across the range, be it arts or sports based. We need to provide more support, value what small clubs provide and support them in what they do. Every individual who lives in this city should have the ability to achieve their goal whatever it may be, our job as elected individuals is to provide them with the resources.”

Cllr Osler also hopes the answer to the lack of sport funding would not include taking funds from the grassroots arts and culture pot.

An Edinburgh Leisure spokesperson said: “Comparing Edinburgh Leisure’s funding from 1998 to today, adjusting the figure for inflation and concluding that there has been a significant reduction, is too simplistic. Yes there has been a reduction in funding from the City of Edinburgh Council over the years but we work in partnership with City of Edinburgh Council to deliver a quality, responsive service. We are mindful of the strains on public sector finances and like other councils and leisure trusts everyone is feeling the squeeze.

“As the biggest physical activity provider in the city, Edinburgh Leisure will continue to work hard to cuts costs and maintain services, whilst providing a range of sporting facilities and leisure centres, high school venues and health programmes to encourage people to get active and stay active.”

Cllr Cammy Day, depute leader of the council, said: “Across the board we need to look at new ways of working with partners to ensure we make the most of the resources we have to support our growing population and Edinburgh Leisure are working closely with us to adapt to such change.”

Cllr Eleanor Bird added “We are increasing affordable access to sport and leisure facilities for our residents – including better access to school sports facilities. We are also investing in our facilities – for example we are building a brand new £45m sports centre at Meadowbank – an inclusive, accessible sports venue with a fantastic range of state-of-the-art facilities which will become one of the very best community sports facilities in Scotland.”

Here's how you can help:

Edinburgh is Scotland’s Capital city and one of the most affluent cities in the United Kingdom.

It is a centre for culture and the arts, with its world famous Festivals, as well as for business, education and politics – and a great sporting city.

Yet grassroots sport in the city is suffering. It is getting harder for young people to get involved. Part of the problem is years of cuts to the budget of Edinburgh Leisure, which operates the city’s public facilities. Edinburgh now spends less than half of what Glasgow does per visitor to its sports facilities.

The Edinburgh Evening News now says enough is enough. Please support our Sporting Chance campaign calling on the City of Edinburgh Council to work with the Scottish Government and other funding organisations to deliver the following pledges for sport:

1. Cut the grass in public spaces and take it away!

2. No more reductions in the budget of Edinburgh Leisure and a commitment to look at reducing the cost of access to facilities

3. A commitment from the city council that there will be no net reduction in the space used for pitches and sports facilities across Edinburgh

4. If developers want land for other reasons, it should be mandatory for them to pay for, and construct, alternative facilities before any development happens

5. Every public pitch and other sporting facility to be maintained to an agreed standard by the council or in partnership with local clubs

6. Open up the school estate on trusted volunteer basis during holidays and at weekends to allow local clubs to work with schools to have access and care for facilities

You can sign our petition HEREWould you like the most important news of the day from Edinburgh and the Lothians delivered straight to your mobile phone? The Edinburgh Evening News is launching a new WhatsApp service for readers, making it easier for you to find the local news that matters to you. Here's how you can sign up for FREE