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Sport England

Volume 463: debated on Monday 23 July 2007

9. What discussions he has had with Sport England on the potential contribution of sport to community regeneration; and if he will make a statement. (151103)

I have had no discussions on that subject, although my predecessor and officials have had discussions with Sport England.

Sport plays a key role in a number of areas of community social regeneration. Sports projects can have a significant impact by breaking down barriers and providing positive opportunities for people to mix with others. Sport can help reduce crime and antisocial behaviour and increase people’s levels of trust and community involvement.

Does the Minister think that Sport England should play a more mainstream role in regeneration and that it should build up our communities, and work together with other bodies on issues of health, crime reduction, and the education of our young people? Does he feel that its image, which is dominated by the blazerati who seem to corner a lot of the money at a national level, needs to be changed so that youngsters at a local level can enjoy sport not only for its own sake, but for the wider benefits that it brings through regeneration?

First, may I congratulate my hon. Friend, with whom I have played sport—cricket or football—on numerous occasions. I know his sporting prowess. He hits the nail on the head when he suggests ensuring that Sport England get involved in community regeneration. I know that he will shortly meet the chief executive of Sport England, Derek Mapp, to discuss what is going on in Nottinghamshire. He knows that the sports participation rate in Nottinghamshire is low, and I am pleased that he chairs the local strategic partnership to help develop and increase participation. Nobody knows better than I, a former Home Office Minister, the impact that sport can have on reducing reoffending and diverting people to other routes. I am sure that Sport England will take up the challenge, and I look forward to working with it and with my hon. Friend to deliver on participation.