Sports Pitches (Redevelopment)

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 26th February 2015.

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Photo of Duncan Hames Duncan Hames Liberal Democrat, Chippenham 9:30 am, 26th February 2015

If he will take steps to ensure that mitigation conditions are enforced when sports pitches are redeveloped.

Photo of Helen Grant Helen Grant The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

It is vital that appropriate playing fields are preserved for local communities. We will always work to protect and improve their provision. Enforcement of mitigating conditions at a local level is a matter for the local authority.

Photo of Duncan Hames Duncan Hames Liberal Democrat, Chippenham

The Minister is right; it is a matter for the local authority. In the case of Westinghouse sports ground in Chippenham, the problem has caused Sport England to send an impressively assertive solicitors letter to Wiltshire council suggesting grave concerns about its resolve to secure mitigation for the loss of sports facilities. Will the Minister give her support to

Sport England in insisting that Wiltshire council does not allow a precious sports pitch to slip through its fingers?

Photo of Helen Grant Helen Grant The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. I understand from Sport England that work is planned to begin replacing the cricket pavilion at Westinghouse sports ground, and that is very good news. Sport England has been in regular contact with the developer, the council and residents, and I know that the hon. Gentleman has too. It wants sporting facilities to be maintained at the site as per the section 106 agreement, and will continue to help and provide expertise. I support the stance that Sport England is taking.

Photo of Gerry Sutcliffe Gerry Sutcliffe Labour, Bradford South

It is important that sporting facilities are available to everybody, particularly people with disabilities. I know that the Minister is working very hard on providing those facilities for disability sport. She may be aware that the England cerebral palsy football team will not be able to play at the next Paralympics because cerebral palsy football has been dropped off the agenda for Paralympic sport. Is she as concerned about that as I am?

Photo of Helen Grant Helen Grant The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Yes, I am very concerned. Although this is a decision for the International Paralympic Committee, I recently met the chief executive of the British Paralympic Association to discuss the issue, and disability sailing as well. We are a great footballing nation, and a great sailing nation too, and I understand the frustrations about this decision. I therefore intend to speak to the IPC president, Sir Philip Craven, in the next couple of weeks.