Trustees go into bat for Sports Commission
A DEPUTY who is also a trustee of the Sports Commission fears it could become a victim of Policy & Resources’ response to the failure to raise public funds through its the Tax Review earlier this year.
‘Because we didn’t support its GST proposals, the narrative coming from P&R seems to be that funding for pretty much everything is in scope to be cut. It’s “toys out of the pram”
stuff from our senior committee,’ said Deputy Marc Leadbeater.
‘I find this approach quite ludicrous. It’s doing nothing to nurture any kind of consensus. Pitting principal committees against each other in a fight for funding, for example, is only going to create even more division among members.’
Critical funding worth about £250,000 a year to the commission looks set to be debated by the States in July with Education, Sport & Culture currently refusing to extend the deal from its existing budget.
Another trustee, Heidi Soulsby, said that she and Deputy Leadbeater failed to get straight answers when they asked ESC president Andrea Dudley-Owen about Sports Commission funding at this week’s States meeting.
‘A strong impression was given that the committee was seriously considering cuts to funding,’ said Deputy Soulsby.
‘Clearly it is disappointing and concerning. Activ8 [the States’ sports strategy] is a 10-year programme and a major part of it is about improving health and wellbeing and inspiring children to be active for life.
‘At the States meeting this week there were questions on doing more to tackle obesity, which is costing the health service tens of millions of pounds a year. We also know that over a quarter of children in Year 5 carry excess weight.
‘Activ8 is hugely important to address this and act as a preventative programme which could keep down costs over the longer term. Making cuts now is a false economy that could lead to greater demand and cost pressures on health care.’
Deputy Soulsby said the States risked making ‘the wrong decisions’ until P&R could find a tax package acceptable to a majority of the Assembly.
‘As I’ve already said publicly, we need to find a solution to how we raise more revenues in a progressive way. The current situation is untenable and I believe the majority of States members think that too,’ she said.
Deputy Leadbeater felt it would be ‘extremely short-sighted’ to cut the Sports Commission’s funding.
‘Community sport aside for a moment, the work it does with PE in schools is invaluable if we want to grow a healthy population,’ he said.
‘Its work in schools has developed over the last few years, helping to deliver and develop curriculum, support vulnerable students and provide over 40 extra-curricular clubs, among a host of other work.’
He also warned that cutting funding of sport could have a negative effect on the aspirations of Guernsey youngsters hoping to emulate locals now playing professional sport.
‘Across many sporting disciplines we have young people full of potential. Let’s help the Sports Commission continue to help these young people fulfil that potential,’ he said.