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Sports pitches at Shugborough Hall, Staffordshire

Volume 612: debated on Thursday 30 June 2016

The petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that the sports pitches to the south of Shugborough Hall are well used and a valuable asset to local and area teams; further that the pitches have been part of a recreation site for decades; further that the proposals put forward by the National Trust to close the pitches in order to create parkland would have a negative impact on sports provision in Staffordshire and make it harder for local people to pursue a healthy and active lifestyle; further notes that these proposals have not been consulted upon; and further that a local petition on a similar matter has been signed by 1,000 individuals.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to call on the National Trust to work with the local community to arrive at a compromise where the sports pitches at Shugborough Hall can continue to be used by local sports teams.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Jeremy Lefroy , Official Report, 20 April 2016; Vol. 608, c. 1030.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr John Whittingdale):

The cross-Government sport strategy document, “Sporting Future, A New Strategy for an Active Nation” makes it clear that playing pitches and those facilities which make up the sporting infrastructure are of primary importance in increasing the number of people taking part in sport and physical activity.

National Trust is a charity independent from Government. I understand that by taking back the management of Shugborough, National Trust will save the local authority £35 million in costs. It will also guarantee the future opening and upkeep of the estate, as well as attracting more visitors to what is one of the few remaining complete working estates in the country.

In the long term it would be positive to restore the current estate at Shugborough Hall to its earlier position as eighteenth century parkland, for the benefit of visitors to this famous National Trust site. Like sport, visiting heritage sites also has a significant impact on wellbeing and life satisfaction. The wellbeing value of visiting heritage sites has been calculated as equivalent to £1,646 per person per year.

In the shorter term it may be better for those sports participants who will be affected by the closure of their pitches, to be able to continue to use the sports facilities until new playing fields can reasonably be secured. I understand that as things stand, there are currently no viable alternative facilities in place for the teams for next season.

I understand from the National Trust that it is still in talks with the local football and cricket teams involved and I very much hope that a solution will be arrived at which will allow the teams sufficient time to make alternative arrangements, so that they can continue to play their sports.

My officials will continue to monitor progress and to offer support as required.