Leisure Centre Closures: North Shropshire

Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons am ar 22 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Equalities)

Leisure centres provide important community hubs, connect individuals within areas in which they live and help to deliver important social and mental health outcomes. In recognition of this and of public leisure, we have provided £60 million to swimming pools across England.

Photo of Helen Morgan Helen Morgan Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Levelling up, Housing and Communities), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Local Government)

Whitchurch swimming pool in my constituency closed in March 2020. Thankfully, there will be spades in the ground to reopen it in the coming years, but the council announced last week that swimming pools and leisure centres are at the top of its list for significant budget cuts in the coming year. Given the lack of public transport, I am concerned that young people will not be able to learn to swim and the wider community will lose access to the healthy lifestyle that leisure centres offer. Will the Minister meet me to discuss how we ensure people in such a stretched out, rural area will be able to access leisure centres going forward?

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Equalities)

We provided that funding for swimming pools precisely because we recognised the particular challenges they faced given high energy bills. More broadly, we are providing over £300 million of support for facilities up and down the country, including rural areas. That will help us to get more people active, which is a key strand of our Get Active sports strategy.

Photo of Philip Dunne Philip Dunne Chair, Environmental Audit Committee, Chair, Environmental Audit Committee

Would my right hon. Friend the Minister be willing to meet me to discuss the challenges faced by leisure centres in local authority areas facing budgetary pressures, such as Shropshire? He mentioned the swimming pool fund, but there might be other opportunities to sustain these vital resources for local people, including those in Shropshire.

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Equalities)

It sounds as if I need to have a cross-Shropshire meeting to discuss facilities in that area. We have been clear about the funding provided for swimming pools. As part of our strategy and determination to get more people active, we will be doing a piece of work to understand the location of black spots where we need to do more to provide more facilities and what those facilities should be to address local needs.