Following England’s win over Germany in the Euros at Wembley last night, Catherine McKinnell MP challenged the Prime Minister to ensure everyone has the chance to “live a healthy life and possibly even play or swim for their country one day” at today’s Prime Minister’s Questions.
The Newcastle North MP highlighted that “at least 400 fitness and leisure facilities have permanently closed since last March – including our much-loved West Denton Swimming Pool in Newcastle – with thousands more under threat.”
She called on the Prime Minister to “expand the clearly inadequate National Leisure Recovery Fund, and back Newcastle’s bid for a new Outer West Leisure Centre through the Levelling Up Fund,”
Following the question Catherine commented:
“With the Euros letting fans dream once again, and the Olympics later this year, many children and young people will be hoping to become the country’s next great athlete.”
“Yet despite the Government’s promise to ensure we come out of the pandemic as a healthier country, we know that at least 400 fitness and leisure facilities have permanently closed since last March, including our much-valued West Denton Pool in Newcastle. What is even more shocking is that many of these closures happened in areas that already have significant health inequalities. Everyone should have access to high quality fitness facilities, no matter where they live.”
“We need to capture this Summer’s sporting spirit and get more people active, but we can’t do that if there aren’t the facilities for people to use. We need the Government to support the sport and fitness sector more than ever”.
“The Prime Minister should urgently support the leisure industry, expand the National Leisure Recovery Fund and back Newcastle City Council’s bid for a brand-new, state of the art net-zero £22m leisure centre in the Outer West of Newcastle.”
Earlier this month Catherine supported Newcastle City Council’s bid to develop a £22mllion state of the art, net-zero carbon Outer West Leisure Centre with funding from the Government’s Levelling up Fund. The new centre would include a swimming pool, sports hall and gym, as well as a café, library and community space: https://www.catherinemckinnellmp.co.uk/catherine-calls-on-government-to-back-game-changing-bid-to-redevelop-west-denton-pool/
The operator of the existing West Denton Pool, GLL, has announced that it cannot afford to reopen the pool, which closed as part of the first national lockdown, due to the financial impact of the pandemic and the ageing building. According to the 2019 Indices of Deprivation, the neighbourhood in which the pool is located is in the top 10% of neighbourhoods in the country for health deprivation challenges, and much of the surrounding area has similar issues.
Catherine has raised concerns about the impact of the closure in Parliament numerous times, including in the Queen’s Speech debate last month: https://www.catherinemckinnellmp.co.uk/support-west-denton-pool/
UK Active estimated in March that 400 gyms, pools and leisure centres across the UK have already been forced to close, and up to a third may be under threat: https://www.ukactive.com/news/ukactive-estimates-400-gyms-pools-and-leisure-centres-already-lost-and-further-2400-at-risk-without-greater-support-in-budget/
The Department of Culture, Media & Sport launched a £100m national leisure recovery fund in December to support outsourced leisure providers, but this funding is not believed to be sufficient to sustain the market. At the time of writing it is understood that no further funding will be forthcoming.