Today, Badminton England Chief Executive, Adrian Christy, posed questions to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Department for Education regarding the use of community sports facilities. Please find the full letter below.
We are facing a crisis unless you intervene!
Four million people play badminton every year and our clubs, like a number of other indoor sports, are on the brink of losing their facilities without government intervention. This will mean thousands of community clubs will be lost and hundreds of thousands of participants will stop.
We are extremely concerned that leisure providers, who are able to reopen their facilities, are having to prioritise the provision of gym activity over community sport. This is catastrophic for the 2.4 million people who play indoor sports regularly. For context, this is more people than play football, cricket, and rugby union.
If indoor places to play are lost, it is those vital community activities who will bear the brunt of the brutal effect of Covid-19 on sport. These are the sports that reach into every community irrespective of age, gender, ethnicity, and physical ability.
Government is right to target healthy living and sport as a key part of the solution; however, this will not work if there are not the indoor spaces for people to play. It is crucial, therefore, that further investment in the leisure sector is ring-fenced to protect those community sports which are valued by so many people.
The significant challenge in accessing public leisure facilities for indoor sport is exacerbated by the closure of school facilities to community sport. These facilities are currently lost to their local community meaning indoor sports have nowhere to go but public leisure centres, and the vast majority of their multi-sport court space is closed, or those facilities are unable reopen. Again, for context, 50% of our clubs play badminton in school facilities.
As Secretaries of State, and representatives of your respective departments at the Cabinet table, I implore you to intervene.
Our asks to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, The Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP and the Secretary of State for Education, The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP:
1. What level of investment are you proposing to Treasury to protect community sports facilities?
2. What is the DCMS doing to minimise the time that multi-sport facilities are having to be repurposed for gym activity?
3. Can you confirm that assistance will be made available to encourage headteachers to open school sports facilities, out of hours, for their local communities?
4. What assurances can you give that every key community sport, and the providers of community facilities, will receive a guaranteed level of ring-fenced additional emergency funding to enable them to survive?
5. How are both departments working together to ensure a joined-up approach to providing access to community sports facilities is being achieved?
Secretaries of State, you can protect community sport from lasting, irrecoverable damage. Please make sure you do.
Chief Executive, Badminton England