Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell has challenged the Government over their lack of support for leisure facilities as we come out of lockdown.
During her speech in the Queen’s Speech debate, Catherine highlighted that many leisure facilities are not reopening after lockdown. This follows reports from the BBC last week that a third of council-run leisure centres in England are facing permanent closure, and of those that can stay open, nearly 80% will see services reduced.
In November, Catherine challenged Ministers over the lack of support for leisure facilities, such as the West Denton Pool, which has not reopened following the easing of restrictions. Catherine challenged the Government for failing to ensure facilities can reopen and stay open, highlighting that national leisure recovery fund was clearly not ambitious enough.
During today’s Queen’s Speech debate, Catherine again highlighted the issue of the West Denton Pool and that there is a ‘postcode lottery’ with leisure services, stating “I worry what we are seeing is the emergence of a perverse pattern, whereby sports and leisure facilities in areas with the biggest existing health inequalities are at the greatest risk of closure”.
Catherine called for the Government to “invest in the health and fitness of all communities now” to enable facilities such as the West Denton Pool to reopen.
Following the debate Catherine commented “I know how important the West Denton Pool is to communities across the Outer West of Newcastle. I am really concerned that the pool has not reopened despite Covid 19 restrictions easing.
“This pattern is being seen across the country with a third of council-run leisure centres in England facing permanent closure, and others seeing services reduced.
“The Government’s support is clearly insufficient. We need to invest in the health of our communities and the Government must step in provide support now.”