Monday, 6 August 2012

Cornwall missing a trick on Olympic legacy?

For all that politicians seem to have had an uncanny knack of getting tickets in the Olympics ballot, there is a role for those of us who have been elected - making sure that everything is in place to take the best advantage of the Olympics legacy.

I think our role should be to make sure that young people have access to facilities and coaching and encouragement to learn and improve. Most will get nothing out of it other than becoming fitter and having fun. But a few will turn out to be good and need to be helped to realise their potential. It's about both sport for all and talent spotting.

First, the good news. Under the Tory Government from 1979 to 1997, more than 10,000 school playing fields were sold off. Under Labour from 1997 to 2010, that number fell to just 226. And it has fallen even further under the coalition with just 8 applications allowed since the new government came into being.

Another piece of good news, here in Cornwall, is that the trust that runs all the council leisure services is preparing to launch a couple of initiatives for young people after the events finish on Sunday. I've asked them (and they have agreed) to also work with other providers in Cornwall. So if you want to take part in open water swimming, they won't simply promote the Jubilee Pool in Penzance (which they run) but also Bude Sea Pool (which they don't).

The trust has also got a few longer term programmes in place to assist high achieving sportspeople through free access to facilities; with school holiday activities; with the torch roadshow and with coaching.

But sport and leisure are wider than just leisure centres and swimming pools. But with the Council getting rid of most of its services - either though transfer to a management organisation or trust or straight privatisation - there is much less we can do. This is one of the unfortunate consequences of the out-sourcing agenda. No longer can the authority be fleet of foot to capitalise on the public mood. We now have to persuade other organisations to do things that they aren't necessarily contracted to do.

One group that is heavily funded by Cornwall Council is Cornwall Sports Partnership. But their '2012 Cornwall' page focuses on the torch procession back on the 19th March. And even the front page of their (pretty good) Get Active Cornwall site doesn't have any mention of the Olympics when it should surely be telling people how to get involved with any of the Olympic sports.

And finally, Cornwall Council's own home page makes no mention of the games. A promising looking picture of a child swimming turns out to be focused on school holiday activity with no mention of London 2012.

It does rather seem that Cornwall (currently having won more gold medals than Australia) is missing a trick.

No comments: