It is a great pleasure to follow Jo Stevens, particularly because she mentioned a number of people involved in sport, including volunteers. As a referee, I was very pleased that she mentioned referees, although she then mentioned others involved in sport, including hotdog sellers. Many things are said before and after “referee” when people describe me, but I have never heard “hotdog seller” before, so that is a new one. At this point, I remind the House of my declaration in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, as a qualified Scottish Football Association referee; I also officiate for UEFA and FIFA.
I want first to focus on a point made by Gavin Newlands about facilities, because facilities are extremely important to all our communities. In the last week, I have raised a number of points about budget cuts, so today I do not want to get into the politics of the budget cuts, who is to blame, and how we can fund things more or less centrally in Scotland or through Westminster. I want to highlight the major impact that budget cuts are having on facilities in Moray. When our swimming pools in Keith and Lossiemouth are under threat, I stand with the hundreds of campaigners who went to a public meeting in Lossiemouth and are signing petitions to save their swimming pool in Keith.
The Active Schools programme is hugely important in Moray, and a number of parents and others have contacted me since Moray Council has decided to axe the programme. The programme is a partnership between councils and sportscotland, with the aim of promoting more and higher-quality opportunities to take part in sport. In 2017-18, over 90,000 participant sessions in Moray were held through Active Schools, with 35% of all school pupils in Moray participating in the sessions. Some 50% of those in my former council area of the Milne’s associated school group were involved in the Active Schools programme. There are 487 people involved in delivering these sessions, 93% of whom are volunteers.