Plan to tackle Sheffield sport cuts

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Sports clubs will be expected to do more maintenance jobs and invest in facilities themselves as council funding dwindles, a new report says.

Sheffield Council has drawn up an Outdoor Sports Strategy which calls for organisations to be ‘less dependent’ on local authority cash.

The plan also points to a need to find new ways of providing, and financing, sport and recreation.

If the strategy is given the go-ahead, the council will commit to creating more pitches for play, training and competition, ensuring there is a ‘spread of high-quality facilities’ across Sheffield. The report will be discussed at a cabinet meeting this Wednesday.

It follows a consultation alongside Sport England, which canvassed views from more than 300 clubs, schools and governing bodies from sports including football, tennis, bowls, rugby and cricket.

“The aim of the strategy is to steer clear of the risk of entering a spiral of decline in future years whereby the quality of facilities continues to fall, clubs struggle for members and volunteers, the presence of clubs in the city becomes increasingly patchy and participation stutters and falls,” the document says.

Bowls clubs which use Sheffield’s parks are cited as ‘one of the best and most recent examples’ of groups which have ‘moved towards self-management and maintenance’ of their own grounds.

“This, together with a number of other successes, such as Handsworth Sporting Club, point the way to clubs taking a lead and finding new ways of reducing costs, increasing membership, boosting income and attracting capital funding,” the report adds.

Cabinet member Coun Isobel Bowler said: “Sheffield has a strong track record of working with sports governing bodies and clubs and this joint approach is needed now more than ever.

“Everyone recognises that a joint approach will be our best chance of tackling the cuts and finding a positive way forward.”