Community clubs are the beating heart of sport and recreation across the country. They help individuals to maintain healthy, active lifestyles and sow the seeds of future elite success, as well as serving as community hubs. Clubs perform these valuable functions in an increasingly tough financial environment, but their position is being undermined further by reduced funding from local authorities and by new policy initiatives.
- In August 2011 our Sports Club Survey revealed that the average club has an annual surplus of just £1091. Average income is falling, and over a quarter of community clubs are running at a loss.
- Radically reduced funding for local authorities puts pressure on local budgets.
- The Government has argued that its Localism Bill – which aims to promote local decision-making – will confer protection on sport and recreation by introducing community rights to buy and to challenge when facilities are under threat.
- The Government has also put forward a draft of the radically slimmed down National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), based on a presumption in favour of sustainable development.
- Clubs are operating in a challenging environment due to local authority spending cuts: Authorities have more incentive to sell or close facilities which are used by clubs, and funding and support for sport and recreation are being drastically reduced.
- The new National Planning Policy Framework encourages 'sustainable development' but strong protections remain for sport, recreation and open spaces.
- There is little reason to be assured by the promise of a ‘Right to Buy’, which will do little more than provide an opportunity to bid against a developer:
- There is no guarantee that sport and recreation facilities will qualify as ‘assets of value’
- The average club will struggle to raise the funds necessary to protect their facility; they will have the right to buy, but rarely the ability to buy.
- The opportunities afforded by the ‘Right to Challenge’ and Community Asset Transfer are heavily dependent on the level of resources, knowledge and experience available to clubs, and do not offer a viable solution for smaller clubs.
- The Alliance will continue to campaign for a strengthened planning framework which requires authorities to ensure a replacement is provided when a valued facility is built upon.
- The Sport and Recreation sector is continuing to work to determine how clubs might be able to take advantage of new community powers but it is not yet clear how beneficial these will be.
- The Alliance’s Local Authority Working Group will continue to monitor and assess the impact of local authority spending cuts across the sport and recreation sector.
For further information please contact Martin Key.
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