YOUNGSTERS from some of Edinburgh’s poorest communities are set to lose out when the council puts up the price of hiring school facilities for sports.
Clubs have warned they will have to pass on the extra costs, which many families will not be able to afford.
And they say the steep increases mean they will not be able to carry on with the current level of provision in sports like football, basketball, volleyball and gymnastics.
The council’s arms-length company Edinburgh Leisure took over the letting of school halls, pitches and pools last year and charges for all adult clubs are being increased. But in addition there will be an extra £35 per hour fee for all hires at the city’s 11 public-private partnership schools outside core hours.
One club which will be badly hit is West Edinburgh Warriors basketball players, who hold many of their training sessions at Tynecastle High School, where all evening, weekend and holiday bookings are classed as non-core hours.
There are around 90 members ranging in age from five to adult from all across the west of the city.
Club chair Louise Moyes said: “We pay £61.80 at the moment for three hours at Tynecastle on a Tuesday. That’s going to go up to £166.80. And it’s the kids of Edinburgh who will suffer.”
She said 30 per cent of the club’s members came from the most deprived areas of the city.
“We’re looking at having to drop some sessions and combine others. There won’t be as many training times as they currently have – and if they can’t afford it they just won’t attend.”
She said playing basketball helps young people to believe in themselves. “Team sports give you so many benefits – teamwork, leadership, communication, confidence levels and also mental wellbeing. Some studies say it benefits academic potential as well. I’m a teacher and I can see that with some of the kids. It’s going to knock their self-esteem and self-confidence.
“And there’s a knock-on effect for the parents – they’re going to feel bad they can’t provide their family with the opportunities others get because of the cost.”
Football will also be hit. Tam Smith, club leader at Hutchison Vale, said they used 18 venues, some of them schools, and were having to cut back because of the cost increases.
“We’re not going to have so many teams,” he said. “We usually have two teams per age group but that’s not going to happen from now on. People will be upset when they don’t have the same chance to play.”
City of Edinburgh Gymnastics Club said they had had to move their four-week summer camps to an alternative venue because they could not afford to pay the extra £35 per hour.
They said they had booked the premises in January but were only told of the change in fees at the end of May.
A council spokesperson said: “We cannot subsidise lets to the same level as before but we are keen to work with clubs to manage any changes. Where possible we are helping clubs choose alternative time slots or schools to minimise any impacts. We will continue to review the situation and the new model.”