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Playing Fields

Volume 507: debated on Monday 8 March 2010

2. What his policy is on the sale of school playing fields for development; and if he will make a statement. (320676)

Schools and local authorities need the Secretary of State’s consent to sell school playing fields. The legislation introduced in 1998 sets out clear criteria for sales. School playing fields can be sold only if they are genuinely surplus, and all proceeds from the sale must be returned to improving sports or educational facilities.

Essex county council has made three attacks on Castle Point’s school playing fields, which is outrageous. The latest attack is to sell off part of Castle View school’s playing field to build a massive estate in the green belt and on the floodplain. It is totally unacceptable. Will the Minister work with me to try to stop this? Essex county councillors should not be using my community—

I know that the hon. Gentleman takes a keen interest in this matter. He has raised it on the Floor of the House before in Department for Children, Schools and Families questions. I am very keen to work with him and, more importantly than that, my hon. Friend the Minister for Schools and Learners is very keen to work with him. I can offer a meeting between the hon. Gentleman and the Minister for Schools and Learners to allow that to take place.

Is the Minister aware of the increasing use of outdoor gyms to enable people to use outdoor facilities more often? Will he encourage schools and local authorities to set about entering into partnerships to have more of those facilities, so that more people can use them?

The hon. Gentleman makes an incredibly important point. We are keen to ensure that partnership and collaborative work takes place to ensure that every single young person in school has the opportunity to have 21st-century sport and recreational facilities. The hon. Gentleman’s suggestions have been taken on board, and I want to work with him and other Members from around the House to ensure that his vision is realised.