As you may have seen from my post on Wednesday, I held a Westminster Hall debate on sports facilities in coalfield communities.
I took this opportunity to raise the importance of properly funding and managing local sports facilities in former mining areas. In Mansfield and Warsop and other forming mining areas, statistics continually show that health outcomes are considerably worse than the national average. Mining related diseases, workplace injuries and occupational deaths have been replaced by new concerns, such as high obesity levels and low physical activity.
Many community and sports facilities in coalfield towns were built by British Coal and have since been handed over to the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation (CISWO). Under the management of CISWO facilities have generally been run by trustees. Some centres have adapted and evolved to meet the needs of their local communities. Unfortunately, many facilities have not been successfully run and their buildings and sports grounds have become dilapidated.
I asked the Government to look at the ways in which local authorities and sporting bodies can be encouraged to work with CISWO on local sports and health and wellbeing priorities. I argued that refurbishing and investing in community buildings will have a positive knock on effect beyond sports provision. Community centres provide spaces for youth groups and community clubs and allow groups from right across the community to get engaged locally and get fit.
I was pleased that Tracey Crouch, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport and Civil Society, urged CISWO to meet with MPs, local authorities and relevant sporting bodies to find a way forward for local facilities. I'm grateful that the Minister also promised to pass on my comments to the Chancellor and the Treasury Team for their consideration. You can watch the full debate over on my YouTube channel.