Doubts over tax on sugar at Sheffield sports centres

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Leisure centre users in Sheffield have expressed scepticism over a new ‘tax’ on sugar set to be introduced at sports facilities across the city.

In a national first, a 20p charge is being levied on all drinks with added sugar sold in cafes and vending machines at Sheffield International Venues’ sites.

The group - run by the Sheffield City Trust charity - operates 11 venues including Ponds Forge, Hillsborough Leisure Centre, iceSheffield, Beauchief Golf Course, Concord Sports Centre and the English Institute of Sport.

A minimum of £25,000 generated by the charge will go towards health schemes, says SIV, which has promised to reinvest ‘every penny’ in obesity and diabetes prevention programmes for young people.

The group’s chief executive, Steve Brailey, said the ‘bold’ move - backed by the city’s director of public health, Greg Fell - was necessary as obesity is a ‘major issue’ in Sheffield, where half of all adults weigh too much.

However, writing on The Star’s Facebook page, Ewan Hyde said: “No-one will give a stuff about paying an extra few pence. If the Government was serious they’d legislate to cut down sugar in food and drinks.”

Meanwhile Will Dowling queried the reasoning behind the levy, which comes into force from Monday.

“I think people are big enough to think for themselves whether they want to buy a sugary drink or not,” he said.

Simon Lee thought the charge was ‘just another way of making more cash’ , while Kellie-Marie Adshead pledged to continue drinking fizzy pop regardless of the extra 20p.

“I’ll be happy to pay more if it stops me being thirsty,” said Kellie-Marie.

Betty Wylie agreed, saying: “They shouldn’t sell them if they want to stop people buying them. People will pay extra if they have the option.”

Sandra Davies suggested making bottled water ‘free or discounted’, while Ziggy Arabian called on drinks firms to shoulder some of the responsibility by adding less sugar to their products.