Euan McGrory: Edinburgh council must make sport cuts a last resort

Broughton Women's Rugby Club - forced to relocate their training pitch from Wardie playing fields to Craigroyston High school because the pitch maintenance is not good enough.
Broughton Women's Rugby Club - forced to relocate their training pitch from Wardie playing fields to Craigroyston High school because the pitch maintenance is not good enough.
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Sports pitches are one of the most valued facilities provided by the city council and its arms-length agencies.

Sports pitches are one of the most valued facilities provided by the city council and its arms-length agencies.

As it stands, there are not enough pitches in Edinburgh to meet demand, especially from children’s teams.

So council plans to cut Edinburgh Leisure’s funding by up to £420,000 and to charge it as much as £375,000 for ground maintenance have led to justified fears that many clubs will not be able to afford to continue. The council has to make savings and is being forced to make hard choices. But, just as it reconsidered – and ultimately relented – over proposals to close the City of Edinburgh Music School, it should think again now.

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Once sports facilities are gone, they will be difficult to replace, given the demand for land in the city.

Being physically fit is vital for the health and well-being and encouraging people to take up exercise at a young age can instil life-long habits.

READ MORE: Battle over Edinburgh’s ‘barely playable’ football pitches

The council needs to come up with compelling reasons why these cuts have to be made and demonstrate there are no other alternatives.

Essential frontline services, like teaching and social care, must be protected but if there is any other way to make the necessary savings, sport should be protected.