This news was followed by athletes expressing the belief that cutting facilities was ‘short-termism’ that could have a huge impact upon communities’ health and fitness levels in the long term.
Amongst those regions with the biggest losses in sports and leisure budgets were London and north-west England, which saw cuts of over £12.3m.
Commenting on the extent of the cuts, David Moorcroft, former chief executive of UK Athletics said: “In times of cutbacks to public services, rightly or wrongly, sport and leisure is one of the first things to get cut.”
“It’s really unfortunate because the health and happiness of the nation and communities is based around being able to access facilities that encourage people to take physical activity.
“Ultimately, if we are trying to reduce obesity among young people, you can’t really have clubs and volunteers doing all that work. Once a facility is lost, it’s gone forever. When you come out of recession, it’s very difficult to rebuild it.”
Emma Boggis, chief executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance which represents sports governing bodies in the UK, commented that she had “some sympathy” with local authorities “and the extreme financial pressures they are under”
“But reducing investment in sport and in leisure facilities is storing up problems for the longer-term,” she said.
“Limiting access to leisure facilities will result in greater inactivity and bigger costs to the NHS in terms of tackling conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and depression.”