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Club May Sink
Rutherglen Amateur Swimming Club fears for its future after an estimated rise in costs of £20,000.
South Lanarkshire Council recently approved a rise in the use of its facilities fees and now the club, which trains at the Lifestyle sports centre in Eastfield, fears the worst.
“A further barrier to children from less advantaged families to being able to engage with competitive swimming and local sport in general.”
“Sports clubs, including Rutherglen Amateur Swimming Club have received welcome support from South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture up until now.
“The increases will eventually lead to an estimated £20,000 per year increase in fees for Rutherglen ASC alone for using the pool at Lifestyle Eastfield.
“This obviously will lead to an increase in fees and therefore a further barrier to children from less advantaged families to being able to engage with competitive swimming and local sport in general.
I have written to Shona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport detailing our concerns with this policy and seeking support from her in this role to review this retrograde step in the council’s stated goal of ‘tackling deprivation and inequalities’.
“I’ve also written to local MSP, MP candidates, as well as councillors for the area.”
“Hope you would share both my frustration and utter dismay at the decision of South Lanarkshire Council.”
In his letter to Ms Robison, Dr Fawcett highlights a September 2009 Scottish Government issued a paper entitled ‘On your marks, get set, go.... A games legacy for Scotland.’
This states: “Our priority is to get Scotland physically active with people living long, healthy lives.”
In this document the Scottish Government also committed to working with local authorities to encourage them to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the 2014 Games at a local level.
In the letter, Dr Fawcett said: “It is obvious that this is a very important and personal interest for you and this is to be welcomed.
“I would therefore hope you would share both my frustration and utter dismay at the decision of South Lanarkshire Council to uniformly withdraw all support and funding to all local sports clubs in the area that use their facilities, of which includes Rutherglen Amateur Swimming Club.
“It is in this area and those neighbouring it was hoped benefits from the Games, the Legacy 2014, would have had the most impact.
“Direct conflict with the council’s stated plan to ‘tackle disadvantage and deprivation...”
“The club has a Scottish National Age Group youth champion within its membership, who may have potential to represent Scotland in the future, and has won awards from the local sports council for its coaching and athletes’ achievements.
“These changes in funding and support from South Lanarkshire Council will see facility charges, for Rutherglen ASC alone, increase by up to £20,000 per year in the forthcoming years. This will inevitably lead to an increase in membership fees and therefore a widening of the health and social inequalities between those who can afford sport and therefore health, and those who cannot.
“Rutherglen Amateur Swimming Club is not alone in this. All sport clubs in the area will be affected.
Dr Fawcett also highlights that the council’s own reports show those born in the district between 2008 and 2010 have a life expectancy five years lower than the national average in Scotland.
He added: “These are the children we are failing as a society, and is the real cost to be calculated, when we place ever more barriers, such as those proposed by SLC, when removing support and funding for sports clubs.
“The policy makes no attempt to take a holistic approach to the health and wellbeing of the council’s constituents and is in direct conflict with the council’s stated plan to ‘tackle disadvantage and deprivation... and support the local economy by providing the right conditions for growth, improving skills and employability’.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We have received Dr Fawcett’s letter and are considering the points raised about Rutherglen Amateur Swim Club and grassroots sports clubs in general. A response will be sent in due course.”
The club have invited Ms Robison to the club to witness the benefits of active engagement in grassroots sports first hand.
Gerry Campbell, general manager of South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture said: “The council and SLLC has had to achieve significant levels of savings in recent years, and that remains the case for 2015/16 and beyond. This has resulted in difficult choices. As part of the efficiency programme, from April this year, there will be an increase in charges for sports clubs using our facilities.”
Club vice-chairman Mark Fawcett, a GP in Glasgow, is especially concerned as it could lead to young people having less exercise and not being able to continue the legacy of the Commonwealth Games, which were held in Glasgow last summer.
Dr Fawcett said: “The club received notification from South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture Ltd recently regarding an increase in facility fees for all sports clubs using their facilities.