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Olympics Legacy

Volume 517: debated on Monday 25 October 2010

Halifax and Yorkshire stand to gain from a wide range of opportunities created by the games, through businesses winning games-related work, increased tourism and cultural events. I am glad to tell the hon. Lady that the Olympic Delivery Authority has already awarded contracts to 39 suppliers in Yorkshire and Humberside.

Given that these Olympics are London-focused and that the capital missed out on the worst of the cuts announced last week, how will the Minister ensure that towns such as Halifax do benefit from the Olympic legacy in terms of much-needed grass-roots sports facilities?

I am delighted to tell the hon. Lady that the best possible news is that I have been to Halifax to deliver that message. On 20 July, I was able to visit the Ling Bob school in her constituency, where I attended a morning session connected with the Chance to Shine scheme. I saw the entire school playing cricket in the playground, and the school had clearly used this to shape its curriculum for the day. That is just one example of many that are brought about by the 2012 games.

The concern about the sporting legacy is shared not just in Halifax but, as I am sure the Minister is aware, right around the country, in view of last week’s announcement that the funding for the Youth Sport Trust and school sports partnerships would be ended. Today, we have seen statements from 442 head teachers, coaches and physical education teachers expressing their concern that this puts the legacy for the London 2012 games and the aspirations of young people at risk. This has taken 10 years to achieve for young people in state schools. What assurance can he give that those children will continue to enjoy sport in the way that they have been led to believe is their entitlement as part of the Olympic legacy?

The answer is in two halves. We have been able to do many things that have secured the sports legacy for the London 2012 games: a generation of new facilities is appearing in and around the Olympic park and our other venues; there will be a considerably increased profile as a result of the games; my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport has already announced our plans for a schools Olympics; we are bringing forward plans for community sport; and we were able, as part of last Wednesday’s settlement, to produce a new major events sports strategy, which will produce a tapestry of events post-2012.

The right hon. Lady’s point about the Youth Sport Trust is an interesting one. It is fair to say that it has performed extremely well in some places, but if she was honest about it, she would say that its performance has been less good in others. The fact remains that after 10 years and probably comfortably more than £1 billion of investment only one in five schoolchildren in this country is playing competitive sport—that is not a terribly good result.