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Column 28th October 2020

Get a move on with giving us the leisure facilities we require

When I first started writing these columns in 2016 we were waiting for plans of the new Leisure Centre which would probably be built on Mably Way and would give us all the (indoor) leisure facilities that we need. Since then this new facility has been withdrawn but all the contributions from developers which would have been used to fund it are either still sitting in bank accounts of the District Council or haven’t been paid by developers yet. The total amount promised for a sports hall, swimming pool or other indoor facilities is about £4.5 million and there is about another £2 million available for outdoor facilities. The Vale has been working on a new leisure strategy for about a year now but we’ve been waiting for about 10 years for new facilities in this area. They are even trying to tell us that tennis improvements in Abingdon will benefit OX12 but when we asked what percentage of people from OX12 use the outdoor tennis courts at the White Horse Tennis and Leisure Centre in Abingdon the answer was less than 2 percent. That doesn’t suggest much of a benefit to me! We really could do with a learner pool (with associated café) for mothers and children, but there isn’t room in the existing Leisure Centre without building on the side of the building. I’m sure that could be possible. On 22 October the government announced that local authority leisure centres will receive £100 million to help them through the challenges of the pandemic. Oliver Dowden (Secretary of State for Sport) said that local authorities will be able to bid for money from the £100m fund and that funding will be allocated to leisure centres most in need. So money is available, we just need to work out exactly what facilities we need. Sports England believes that these leisure facilities will go on being a vital resource as the nation looks to keep as healthy and active as possible in the months ahead. They are focused on encouraging inactive people to become active and stressing that even with the pandemic we can all get active at home or outdoors, as well as at the leisure centre. They are promoting ideas for 10 minutes exercise a day (via www.10today.co.uk) for older people, 'GET KIDS MOVING' and exercise videos on YouTube for those younger and fitter so we should all “join the movement” now!

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