Sporting Chance: Edinburgh Council to be held to account over access to sport

A senior city councillor will hold city chiefs to account on their lacklustre approach to sport accessibility in the Capital.

Thursday, 12th September 2019, 8:11 pm
Kids attempt to play football on a badly maintained pitch at Buckstone.

Next week will see a motion brought to the council that will look for them to take responsibility for poor pitch maintenance and to explore how to further empower trusted volunteer coaches.

The motion, from Tory member Phil Doggart, includes key tenets of the Edinburgh Evening News’ “Sporting Chance” campaign which calls for a halt in cuts to sport budgets, proper maintenance of playing surfaces to a suitable and safe level and to empower grassroots volunteers who run clubs in their own time.

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“Any obstruction put in place by the council that deters access to sport and the necessary facilities should be removed. If not, we will fail a new generation of young people. It is time to fund, maintain and, where necessary, upgrade our sports facilities.”

Cllr Doggart’s first motion, if approved by councillors next Thursday, would see Edinburgh City Council “take responsibility for not doing as much for hockey in the city as could be done” because of the “lack of pitches that meet the highest standards for top level hockey”.

The Evening News will investigate the issues faced by hockey clubs at the grassroots level next week. Our petition to make sport accessible to all in Edinburgh has received more than 3,100 signatures so far.

The second motion, if passed, would mean the council “accepts responsibility for marking pitches” so sporting fixtures go ahead, as well as “removing all grass cuttings from, and adjacent to, sports pitches” as well as cutting grass “to an appropriate length” so sporting events and training goes ahead as planned.

If backed by councillors, officials would be told to draw up an action plan to “prevent future standards falling below those required by the playing clubs” and an investigation into setting up a “trusted key-holder system” so clubs have easier access to facilities.

“The concern I have with this is PFI schools – it’s not necessarily within the council’s gift. Will there be an impact on Edinburgh Leisure? In principle, I think it’s fantastic if individuals can access facilities and have keys. The devil will be in the detail whether it is or isn’t possible and how much it will cost. We need to make sure that across the board, we are not having a negative impact so we can do something that’s sustainable.”

A council spokesperson, said: “The motion will be discussed at Full Council next week.”