I am gauging whether everyone is in their places, because we are tight for time, now. If everyone on the front benches is ready, I will start.
The next item of business is a debate on motion S5M-09789, in the name of Aileen Campbell, on the Glasgow 2018 European championships. I call Aileen Campbell to speak to and move the motion. Minister, you have a very tight 11 minutes.
I am pleased to open the debate on the inaugural European championships, which will take place in Scotland on 2 to 12 August this year. I do not know how often we will hear this during 2018, but I will start the new year on a note of consensus by saying that I agree with Anas Sarwar. We intend to support his amendment because it is important to recognise the achievements of the bid team and all relevant administrations in securing the Commonwealth games and this year’s European championships. Those events have been the culmination of positive co-operation and collaboration between the Scottish Government, as the principal funder, and Glasgow City Council, with a shared focus on delivering excellence and establishing a formidable track record and expertise in hosting fantastic events.
On Brian Whittle’s amendment, although we recognise the need to do more to get our population active and reap the significant health benefits that that brings, it is disingenuous to be so wholly negative about the transformative impact that the games in 2014 had. Hosting the European championships this year is both a legacy in its own right and an opportunity to develop and extend that legacy in all the areas in which it was delivered in 2014. That legacy went beyond sport; it brought cultural, societal and economic benefit to the whole country. I will expand on the issue of legacy later in my speech.
The Glasgow 2018 European championships are a major investment for the Scottish Government, and we are committed to ensuring that they are a great success for Glasgow and Scotland. The championships provide a perfect opportunity to build on the legacy of other recent events and to showcase our nation and culture to a substantial international audience. The new event will be an exciting addition to the sporting calendar. Attracting some of Europe’s elite athletes, Glasgow 2018 will give Scots another chance to see world-class sport on their doorstep. With a potential global television audience in excess of 1 billion, Glasgow 2018 is also a huge opportunity to demonstrate Scotland’s best assets, including our events and tourism offering, to the world.
The European championships are a new format that will bring together the existing European championship events of six sports—aquatics, athletics, cycling, gymnastics, rowing and triathlon—and introduce a new European-level competition in golf. Six sports will take place in Scotland, with athletics in Berlin bringing an enhanced international flavour.
The minister will be aware that Scotland excels at cycling and that we have a brand new velodrome in Glasgow. She might not be aware that the velodrome is banked at 45 degrees, which means that it has a minimum speed and that, if a cyclist does not meet that speed, they will fall off. Does she accept that, if Scotland is to continue to excel at cycling, we will need another velodrome that is banked at 30 degrees to help disabled cyclists and young cyclists of the future?
We will always look to enhance our facilities. I recognise that the Commonwealth games in 2014 allowed us to enhance facilities across the country and have performance athletes in all sports. I will go on to remark how cycling has experienced a growth in participation, and I am happy to engage with the member on her point.
The intention is that the championships will be held in a different host city every four years. Alongside the venues in Glasgow, competition will take place across Scotland, including in rowing and triathlon at Strathclyde country park, in golf at Gleneagles and in open-water swimming at Loch Lomond. Scotland is well placed to contribute to developing this new concept, as we are able to draw on the experience of the successful partnership working that delivered the 2014 Commonwealth games. Once again, the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council are working together to deliver a truly memorable event.
An early success was in securing the support of the European Broadcasting Union for Glasgow 2018, which has led to a healthy media interest. The high profile of the new combined brand provides a great opportunity for Scotland and the seven sports to attract new audiences and interest.
Scotland has a strong reputation as a host of world-class events. Our national events strategy, “Scotland the Perfect Stage”, reaffirms our commitment to the delivery of a one-Scotland approach to building a strong and dynamic events industry. We produce a portfolio of events and festivals that deliver sustainable economic benefit and an enhanced international profile for Scotland. Glasgow 2018 will further enhance our reputation, nationally and internationally, as a leader and innovator of best practice in event planning and delivery.
Staging the championships will provide Scotland with the opportunity to sustain and enhance the sporting, economic, social, environmental and cultural legacy of the 2014 Commonwealth games. Glasgow 2018 will do that by enhancing physical activity access across Scotland, building international relationships across sport, culture and business, supporting local businesses, creating local jobs and volunteering opportunities and establishing business and cultural links with Berlin.
The 2014 Commonwealth games economic legacy was substantial. The post-games analysis found that, over the eight years from winning the bid to hosting the event, the games contributed more than £740 million gross to Scotland’s economy and supported, on average, 2,100 jobs each year from 2007 to 2014. Similarly, the 2018 championships are being delivered with the four Is of our economic strategy in mind: bringing significant investment, being innovative in delivery, supporting inclusive growth and, of course, having an international focus.
At the heart of that international focus will be the new Berlin innovation and investment hub. Appointments have now been made to the hub, and it will play a key role in promoting cultural and trade opportunities between Scotland and Germany.
The benefits of hosting an event of the scale of the European championships will be seen across a broad range of local and national businesses, particularly in the tourism sector, which brings in spending of almost £11 billion per annum and supports an estimated 217,000 jobs. VisitScotland will boost that by promoting our famous Scottish welcome and by working with partners to ensure that the spirit and the message of the championships—and of Scotland more widely—reach those who come to the event and those who enjoy the broadcast coverage at home or abroad.
It is clear that the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth games provided a substantial active legacy for people in Scotland, creating opportunities and infrastructure to enable individuals to engage with and take part in physical activity and removing barriers to participation. That is evidenced by rises in participation levels reported by sports governing bodies. Scottish Athletics reported a 10 per cent increase in athletics club members in 2017, Scottish Swimming’s membership has increased by 25 per cent over the past decade and Scottish Cycling’s membership was up 21 per cent last year.
Alongside that, we continue to invest to make sport and physical activity accessible to all, regardless of background. We provided sports governing bodies with an additional £2 million to target work on equalities in 2017, and we established the £300,000 sporting equality fund and the women and girls in sport advisory board to drive female sports participation. Further, we have protected the sportscotland budget and have provided an additional £3.4 million to mitigate reductions in income from the national lottery. It is important also to remember that 95 per cent of funding that is provided through sportscotland and local authorities goes to support grassroots sport.
Glasgow 2018 will build on that investment by aiming to inspire people who are inactive to be more active and by supporting wellbeing and resilience in communities through sport and physical activity.
The network of 181 community sports hubs across Scotland is a direct legacy of Glasgow 2014. The hubs play a crucial role in encouraging increased participation in sport and physical activity by people of all ages and backgrounds. Today, I met participants from the community sports hub based at Oriam who were taking part in walking netball. Through the innovation of the hub and the governing body, those people are being reunited with a sport that they once enjoyed and are benefiting from becoming more active and feeling an enhanced sense of wellbeing. That story is replicable across the other 180 hubs.
I am, therefore, pleased to announce £500,000 of funding for the community sports hub network—a competitive fund that is to be administered by sportscotland. Its aim will be to support additional activity, capitalise on the energy and enthusiasm of Glasgow 2018 and encourage the inactive to become more active, building on the positive work that is being done right across Scotland.
No major sporting event would be complete without the commitment and enthusiasm of volunteers, and volunteers will play an essential role in the experience that is offered to athletes, officials, media and spectators at Glasgow 2018. The huge number of applications to volunteer—close to 10,000—is testimony to people’s passion and their enthusiasm to be involved in the championships. Applications were received from 89 countries as well as from every local authority area in Scotland. People from a wide range of backgrounds will volunteer at the European championships, committing time and energy and involving our communities in this exciting event.
Of course, 2018 is also the year of young people, and one of the key themes of the year is participation. The Scottish Government has been working with Young Scot to provide volunteering opportunities to some year of young people ambassadors. Volunteering will undoubtedly prove valuable in building up the skills portfolios of those young people.
The Scottish Government is also working closely with Glasgow 2018, VisitScotland, local businesses and other partners to ensure that the European championships are Scotland’s most inclusive event yet, welcoming diverse communities from near and far. I am delighted to announce that, to achieve that aim, the Scottish Government is providing LEAP Sports Scotland with a funding contribution of £20,000 to further boost the engagement of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community in the European championships. That funding will support a programme of events and activities showcasing LGBTI life in Scotland, championing rights and welcoming LGBTI visitors from across the world.
We are on the countdown, with 203 days to go before the sporting action begins. I am confident that the 2018 European championships will be an exceptional sporting spectacle, but I am also determined to maximise the legacy from the championships so that communities across Scotland can share the benefits from the event and ensure that the inspiration that it provides is met with increased opportunity and support. The championships have the potential to demonstrate, once again, that Scotland is a dynamic, welcoming and outward-looking country that provides the perfect stage on which to hold events.
That the Parliament recognises the important contribution that hosting world-class events makes to Scotland’s international profile; welcomes the opportunity that the new flagship sporting event, the Glasgow 2018 European Championships, brings to Glasgow and Scotland in August; supports the aim that the championships will drive the ambition for Scotland to become an active nation by helping to inspire people to lead more active lifestyles; acknowledges that the championships will showcase all that Scotland has to offer and build on the legacy of the "best ever" Commonwealth Games in 2014; values the opportunity that the championships offer to engage with young people in Scotland’s Year of Young People, and recognises that the championships will facilitate the development of strong relationships across Europe, including creating a unique partnership with Berlin and Germany.
I am delighted to open the debate on behalf of the Scottish Conservatives.
It is a fantastic achievement for our small country to continue its history of hosting major international competitions from the hugely successful 2014 Commonwealth games to the Ryder cup, the open championship, the world badminton championships, the Champions League final, the 2012 Olympic football group matches and the world gymnastics championships, to name but a few.
I go back a little further than that, of course, having had the immense honour of competing in the 1986 Commonwealth games in Edinburgh and the European indoor championships in Glasgow in 1990. There is nothing like being a competitor in your home country. It is hard to describe the wall of noise that follows you and supports you around the track. Your heart could burst with pride. We Scots are a passionate lot and we love our sport, especially when it is one of our own in the arena.
Now, we have the European championships to whet our appetite in 2018, not to mention the Solheim cup and the world indoor athletics championships in 2019. That is a veritable smörgåsbord of international-class sport for our enjoyment and entertainment, and we can be guaranteed that every event will be full because, as I have said before, we Scots love our sport.
However, our support for and our passion for watching sporting excellence are not reflected in the state of the nation’s health. Our issues with preventable health conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, musculoskeletal conditions, chest, heart and stroke conditions and many types of cancers, not to mention poor mental health, are well documented, and the incidence of many of those conditions continues to rise. It is our relationship with physical activity and food that will determine whether we are successful in turning that unwanted trend around. The truth of the matter is that, if someone is physically active as part of their routine, they are less likely to smoke and more likely to have a healthier weight and a better relationship with food and alcohol. That regular participation in physical activity will also have a positive effect on their mental health, as we have been told by the Scottish Association for Mental Health, Mental Health Scotland and even the Samaritans.
We, in this place, must address how we can leverage a positive legacy for the nation’s health from events such as the European championships. We need not just to look at activity levels, as was done in the Scottish health survey, but to ask the questions: “If you are not active, would you like to be?” “If you would like to be active, what are the barriers?”
One example of what the health survey did not show is the huge increase in the waiting lists at many sports clubs, such as those for athletics and gymnastics, even though their participation figures rocketed up. Figures from sportscotland show that many Scottish sports have registered encouraging membership increases during the four-year Glasgow cycle, including a 58 per cent rise at Netball Scotland—which is particularly important given its demographic—a 49 per cent growth at Scottish Triathlon and a 37 per cent increase at Scottish Gymnastics. In total, there has been an 11 per cent increase in the membership of the 17 Commonwealth games sports governing bodies over the past four years. However, the Scottish health survey does not reflect that, and nor did the investigation by the Health and Sport Committee, in my opinion. Its focus was too narrow and its conclusions gave us only part of the picture, which makes it difficult to deliver long-lasting, effective solutions.
It is not just about measuring the status quo; it is about understanding why current patterns exist, looking at socioeconomic participation patterns and addressing barriers to participation. It is about looking at what activities are available and accessible in all areas. The best line that I heard in the evidence that was given to the Health and Sport Committee came from the chief executive of Scottish Athletics, Mark Munro, when he said that we have to prepare for legacy. In other words, the legacy from hosting major events does not just happen; we must put in place the opportunities to participate and make access as easy as possible.
What about aligning the school curriculum with upcoming sporting championships? What about offering extracurricular activities that are linked to that school curriculum, and what about joining up that extracurricular activity programme with local clubs, using governing body input? What about actively encouraging volunteers and driving coach education? That is as much about participation as the sports participants. We need to link physical education to physical activity and to sport.
We are talking about obesity strategies and mental health strategies while, in the real world, access to participation is being ripped out of our local communities. We have a fantastic, world-class sporting facility at Ravenscraig that was opened in October 2010 and funded by public funds. In June 2011, First Minister Alex Salmond praised the facility and admitted that it would deliver a real and lasting legacy for Scotland and North Lanarkshire. Now, we hear that they are ripping up the 135m track without consultating Scottish Athletics, the users of the facility or, it seems, the Scottish Government.
South Ayrshire Council is looking to close sports hubs in Troon and Ayr, where, incidentally, clubs such as the powerchair football team known as the Ayrshire Tigers train and play. That is being repeated across the country, including in Ayrshire towns such as Maybole, Patna and Dalmellington.
We cannot keep ripping out access to opportunities by closing local facilities and centralising opportunities and then complain that activity levels are not rising. The inevitable consequence of those moves is that physical activity and sport will become the bastion of those who can afford and are able to travel, while those who cannot will be left behind, and that will drive health inequalities in Scotland. That is why the Scottish Conservatives will support the Labour amendment.
The answer is staring us in the face. Facilities need to be local, accessible and affordable. The school estate is all of those things, but it continues to be underutilised. The opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities can and should be expanded for a variety of reasons, improved participation and good physical and mental health being the main ones.
The European championships coming to Scotland is another great opportunity to showcase Scotland, to show how we welcome the world to our shores, to enthuse our people, to deliver that intangible feel-good factor—that national pride—and to celebrate the jobs that the event will create and the opportunities to get involved. For those reasons alone, it is worth continuing to bring such events to Scotland. However, so much more can be achieved, especially where national health is concerned. Legacy is a difficult concept to deliver when it comes to participation. Many countries have tried and have fallen short. That does not mean that it cannot be done, but we need to plan for it. Look at what Scottish Athletics did in the four years leading up to the Glasgow Commonwealth games and in the subsequent four years.
Through its club together programme, Scottish Athletics invested in the club system, recruiting coaches and administrators as well as athletes. The number of active participants across all the age groups in championships has rocketed. The huge successes of jogscotland numbers and the mums on the run and jogworks programmes should be noted. Do members think that it is a happy accident that Scottish athletes on the international stage are now more successful than they have been in decades? We need to learn from Scottish Athletics and other sports that have grasped the nettle and made it happen—not just in sport, but in accessible and affordable activity.
The European championships coming to Scotland is not the end game; it should be the start. I ask the Scottish Government to formulate a plan that actually delivers against healthy and active objectives, that gives opportunity to all irrespective of background and personal circumstance and that recognises how to link events with activity levels and strategies such as the obesity and mental health strategies. To do any less would be, once again, to let a fantastic opportunity drift by.
I move amendment S5M-09789.2, to leave out from “and build on the legacy” to “in 2014” and insert:
“; notes the Health and Sport Committee’s concerns that the 2014 Commonwealth Games did not have the legacy impact desired; believes that substantial efforts should be taken to ensure that hosting the championships has a positive effect on Scotland’s low levels of physical activity”.
I thank the minister for bringing the debate to the chamber. It is an opportunity for us to speak with pride about what Scotland and Glasgow are achieving, so a s a proud Glaswegian, I am delighted to speak in the debate.
Glasgow is one of the top 10 sporting cities in the world. It has credibility in the world of sport and is a true destination city—not just for world-class sporting events but for culture and business. It is a genuine success story about the transformation that can be achieved with the right vision and the drive to deliver the real change that the people of Scotland and Glasgow deserve.
It is only right that I—as the minister did—pay tribute to the work of successive Glasgow administrations, including individuals such as former Glasgow City Council leaders Gordon Matheson and Frank McAveety and, in particular, the deputy leader of the council at the time and the person who co-ordinated for Glasgow Life, Archie Graham, for their work in driving many of the successes that we see across the city. I also record my thanks and congratulations to the bid team as well as to the delivery team for their hard work and effort. I am sure that all that hard work will be rewarded when the championships finally kick off.
It feels as though just yesterday we were watching the greatest-ever Commonwealth games take place before our eyes—the greatest ever not just in terms of the fantastic sporting achievements, but in terms of the coming together of the city to deliver a huge logistical success.
People need only walk round the east end of Glasgow to see the transformation: a lasting and genuine legacy in sporting stadia, new housing transforming the landscape and improving the lives of many people at the same time, improved transport infrastructure, a new school, a new community centre, a new health centre and thousands of volunteers who are proud to have represented their city of Glasgow. The Commonwealth games was not just a great piece of sporting excellence, but was a genuine vehicle for transformative social policy—and all before a world-wide audience that was counted in the billions. It was a great advert not just for Glasgow but for Scotland.
The foundation that was laid in 2014 is being built on with the European championships. Thousands of athletes and officials across six sports will arrive in Glasgow. Covering aquatics, golf, cycling, gymnastics, rowing, and triathlon, the championships will again deliver a feast of sporting excellence.
Despite a degree of negativity from some people about the value of hosting elite sporting events, the championships and other similar events are, in their own right, great for Glasgow and Scotland to host because they help to boost the confidence of our people in Glasgow and around the country. World-class sporting events taking place in our home city or home nation is a thing of joy and pride for us all.
Such events are also good opportunities to establish trade links, to profile the city across the world and to showcase all the great things that Glasgow has to offer.
It is right that the BBC will give the championships the status of a big event, which will mean that we will have more than 40 broadcasters there, as well as the BBC, in Scotland and in Glasgow, and that the championships will be seen by an audience that will be in the hundreds of millions of people. It is also an opportunity for the city to build closer trade links with Berlin specifically, and with Germany more widely.
All that is good, but I want to highlight issues that should be of concern to us all, about how to get a genuine and lasting legacy from the games and the championships. I mentioned infrastructure, housing and the boost to tourism and business, but how will we get a long-term effect on alleviation of poverty, on sport participation and on positive employment destinations? Although there is some evidence that there has been an increase in attendance at, and membership of, Glasgow sporting programmes, we need to crunch the numbers to see whether the increase in participation has happened among those from the poorest backgrounds, and whether the communities in Scotland that are in the most need of added participation are accessing facilities. We need some proper longer-term analysis on that.
No problem. I apologise for being unable to take the intervention.
Although I agree with many of the points in Brian Whittle’s speech and his amendment, we cannot support his amendment, partly because we will not remove from the motion the reference to the “‘best ever’ Commonwealth games” in my home city of Glasgow. The cynic in me cannot help but think that Mr Whittle does not think that they were the best-ever Commonwealth games because he did not compete in them.
I welcome a lot of what the minister said, but we need more analysis on employability, on poverty alleviation and on participation. We need to look at how we can get more people from, in particular, working-class backgrounds accessing the games. If I had more time, I would mention more about the cuts to local government and their impact on sport participation, which needs to be reflected in the budget.
In my final 20 seconds, I record my thanks to all those who have been involved from all levels of government—whether in Glasgow City Council or in the Scottish Government—the agencies, the bid team and the delivery team for putting the successful bid together and delivering what I am sure will be successful championships. It will be another moment of pride for Glasgow and for Scotland.
I move amendment S5M-09789.1, to insert at end:
“; congratulates the bid teams and successive Glasgow City Council administrations on their roles in securing both these championships and the Commonwealth Games in 2014, and believes that there should be medium to long-term analysis on the legacy impact of these events on poverty reduction, economic growth and new employment.”
One hundred years ago today, Glasgow and Berlin were on opposite sides in the first world war, and were on opposite sides of the second world war 75 years ago today. It is encouraging that, as we go into 2018, those two great cities are in such a friendly partnership in preparing to host jointly the first European championships, bringing together under one umbrella a range of sports that were previously completely stand alone. With the Olympic and Commonwealth games, we have found that so-called minority sports, that often do not get much support and publicity when they stand alone, benefit hugely from the increased coverage when they take place at the same time and are presented on TV as part of a package.
I am especially delighted that a number of events are due to take place in the constituency of Glasgow Shettleston, which I represent. The events include swimming at Tollcross, cycling at the Chris Hoy velodrome, and cycling and cultural events at Glasgow Green. I understand that, on 3 August, all the finals that are being held in Scotland will be in the Glasgow Shettleston constituency.
I mentioned that events will be happening at Glasgow Green, which I welcome. It is a great space near the city centre and is readily accessible by public transport. However, I flag up in passing to Glasgow City Council that we should not use Glasgow Green for almost every event that we hold in the city. It is meant to be available as a public space for residents, but there has been a tendency in recent times for it to be closed off not just for events themselves, but for setting up beforehand and clearing up afterwards.
The motion refers to the Commonwealth games in 2014. Such high-profile sporting events have many benefits including, as has been mentioned, raising the profile of Glasgow and Scotland, which leads to a boost for tourism and even for business investment, to tremendous entertainment for all of us on our doorstep, to a boost for our self-confidence as a city and a nation, and to a lasting legacy and encouragement to get involved in sport.
The Conservative amendment focuses on legacy, on which I want to comment. I accept that the Commonwealth games taking place in the east end of Glasgow four years ago has not automatically turned everyone in my constituency into a super athlete. Some people have questioned what legacy there is. First, we now have some fabulous sports facilities right on our doorstep, including the Emirates arena, the velodrome, the Tollcross swimming pool and the national hockey centre, to name but a few. People have the opportunity to use those facilities and to continue to watch top-class sport there. We also have the Commonwealth games village, which provides excellent owner-occupied and socially rented housing, and which has drawn more building into the surrounding area, with a new school now being built in Dalmarnock.
Legacy is not only about bricks and mortar, although it certainly includes them. The legacy of achieving behavioural change is perhaps more of a challenge, but we always knew that that would be the case. I distinctly remember Bridget McConnell, who heads up Glasgow Life, saying to us before the Commonwealth games that no city had really cracked the issue of legacy. She referred to cities including Melbourne and Barcelona that had recently held major games. We always knew that that aspect would be difficult, and so it has proved. However, I say to Mr Whittle that a lot of effort went in around the Commonwealth Games: he seemed to hint that it did not.
For hockey, for example, we now have a top-class international venue that regularly hosts top events of which we can be proud. Hockey perhaps has the reputation of being played more in private schools, and it takes time to change that, as with all perceptions and traditions. Often, it takes a teacher in a school who is really keen on a particular sport to take that forward. That is the legacy or vision to which Scottish Hockey is truly committed. As anyone who has met its staff and volunteers will know, one would be hard pressed to find a more dedicated and enthusiastic group.
I suggest that parts of the legacy, including for the coming championships, can be clearly seen, but other parts are harder to measure. Although effort certainly has gone in, I do not believe that we can ensure that hosting such events will always change levels of physical activity, but the Conservative amendment uses the word “ensure” in that context.
All in all, it is very exciting to look forward to a major event coming to Glasgow, and especially to the east end. We can all look forward to a tremendous summer.
What an honour it is for Glasgow that a new era of sport should begin right in the heart of the city this summer. The inaugural European championships are a key opportunity to once again showcase Glasgow’s infamous hospitality, the warmth of its people and a city whose spirit is renowned across the world.
Growing up in Glasgow, I by no means had sporting prowess, but I was involved in a number of sports including gymnastics, hockey and tap dancing, and when push came to shove, I chalked up the streets to create Springburn’s answer to Wimbledon. To me, sport did not necessarily represent the opportunity to be the next Nadia Comaneci or even the next Jocky Wilson; it was an opportunity to be with my friends, get outside when I needed to and energise myself with new challenges. Although I eagerly anticipate the wealth of new talent that the championships will no doubt inspire across the country, it is the renewal of grass-roots sports and community engagement, no matter how small, that I most look forward to as part of the longer-lasting legacy.
With about 4,500 athletes from across Europe taking part, and a potential television audience of more than a billion viewers, interest in the event is high, and I am extremely pleased that people across the city have already been showing their support. The championships have rightly continued in the same vein as the 2014 Commonwealth games by recognising the importance of involving local people and incorporating the sentiment that people really do make Glasgow. We will have festival 2018, which will be a cultural event showcasing local art, music, dance and theatre projects across the city, and applications for volunteering positions have been overwhelming.
More than 10,000 people from across the world applied to volunteer at the championships, with a fifth of all applications coming from people within the city itself.
As well as being an opportunity once again to shine a global spotlight on a city that is known for its warmth and welcoming atmosphere, this is a real opportunity to reignite our love for sport and physical activity. As we all know, the positive effects of the 2014 Commonwealth games on Glasgow are undeniable. Across the city, we are peppered with reminders of a great sporting event—colourful graffiti murals still cover city walls, and in the east end in particular there has been real physical change, with the transformation of the former athletes’ village.
I have immense pride, as a Glaswegian, in what the city achieved during that time, but I want to take the opportunity to ask that lessons be learned from the past, as we look to improve Scotland’s health. The Glasgow games inspired local events and initiatives such as new walking routes, but as the Health and Sport Committee reported last November, there is no real evidence of an active legacy from the 2014 Commonwealth games.
As well as having one of the worst obesity rates among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, more than a third of adults in Scotland currently do not meet the guidelines for moderate physical activity, and for children aged between 13 and 15 the rate reaches nearly 40 per cent. I do not wish to sound overly negative, however. The championships is a positive event and we should be doing our utmost to ensure that rates of physical activity in adults and in children drastically improve in the long term.
Furthermore, although I am absolutely thrilled to see that the championships’ mascot, Bonnie the Seal, is female, I would also like to hear from the Scottish Government what specific action it will take to target social groups that we know are disproportionately inactive, including women, ethnic minorities and certain age groups.
Does Annie Wells acknowledge that the Scottish household survey showed that participation in all physical activity and sport has increased from 72 per cent in 2007 to 79 per cent in 2016, which is a significant population-level shift? Does she also recognise the fact that this year we have established a £300,000 sporting equality fund and have established a women’s advisory group to advise us on what more we need to do to help women to participate in sport? Does she not recognise—
I acknowledge that work, of course, but we need to ensure that we do not just set things up for the creation of something, but that we are actively targeting other groups as well.
To finish, I would again like to show my heartfelt support for the championships and the opportunities that the event will present for Glasgow and surrounding areas. What has been shown time and again during the hosting of sporting events is that they are times when people can come together and celebrate a country’s achievements as well as its cultural heritage. As well as the opportunity that they provide for inspiring a new raft of talent in Scotland, I sincerely hope that the championships will reignite Scotland’s love for sport and physical activity. I look forward to attending the games and events and to seeing the spotlight shining once again on Glasgow.
I am pleased to take part in this afternoon’s debate, not just from a sport, cultural and tourism point of view, but also as a regional MSP whose area will be hosting one of the events.
Scotland’s reputation for hosting world-class sporting events is not in doubt. From regularly holding the open championships at St Andrews and courses across Scotland to the Commonwealth games in 2014, we are a country that warmly welcomes fans and stars from across the world. In the past few years, we have seen the Ryder cup, the world gymnastics championships, the world badminton championships and many high-profile football matches.
As we prepare once again to welcome thousands to Glasgow and the rest of the country, we should be proud to have been chosen as the inaugural host of the European championships, alongside Berlin. That such an event is centred in, but not limited to, Glasgow is something that I also welcome, especially as golf will be taking place at one of our most iconic courses, the Jack Nicklaus-designed centenary course in Gleneagles. I am sure that every golfer and every fan will enjoy the beautiful Perth and Kinross countryside, and I remember fondly the scenes of Europe’s Ryder cup triumph over the United States of America in 2014. With a potential broadcast audience of more than 1 billion, we should look forward to highlighting the best that this country has to offer.
One of the striking memories of the 2014 Commonwealth games was of the Clyde-siders—the enthusiastic volunteers who helped not just at the various sporting events but throughout the city. Without them, many of the events that took place in George Square and Glasgow Green, for example, would not have been the success that they were. Those events and those volunteers showed the heart of Scotland just as much as the rugby at lbrox, the athletics at Hampden or the cycling at the velodrome did. Through their interactions, Scotland was able to show what a friendly and welcoming nation it truly is. From a tourism point of view, the value of that cannot be underestimated.
According to the visitor impact study that was conducted after the 2014 games, almost 700,000 visitors spent approximately £282 million attending the games and the accompanying cultural events. A quarter of a million people stayed overnight, and 220,000 visitors came from outwith Scotland. On average, overnight visitors from the rest of the United Kingdom stayed for more than five days, and visitors from outside the UK stayed for 10 nights.
The boost to our tourism sector is clear. The industry average spend for day visitors was £48 and for overnight visitors was £68, but those who attended the games spent £57 and £125 respectively. Ninety-five per cent of hotel rooms in Glasgow and Clyde valley were occupied, and 94 per cent of bed-and-breakfast rooms were occupied. Those figures were increases of 12 per cent and 25 per cent on the figures for the same period the year before.
The impact was not just confined to the city and the surrounding area. Self-catering occupancy was up 30 per cent in Ayrshire, 17 per cent in Aberdeen and Grampian and 20 per cent in the Borders. That often provided an important boost to the rural tourism economy.
According to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, over the course of 2014 there was an average increase of 6.5 per cent in visitor numbers to Scotland compared with the previous year. Kelvingrove art gallery, the Riverside museum, the gallery of modern art and the People’s Palace all saw significant increases. The national museum of Scotland was the most-visited free attraction in Scotland and one of the most visited museums outside London, and Edinburgh castle was the most-visited paid-for attraction outside London.
This year’s championships will undoubtedly offer similar opportunities. George Square will once again be a thriving hub of activity and the centre of the games, showcasing our country, arts and creativity. I look forward to the festival 2018 cultural partnership and hope that it succeeds in broadening access and engagement in communities across Glasgow and Scotland.
Yesterday, in the chamber, members debated the impact of Brexit on the country. Festival 2018 is our opportunity to say that, no matter what happened in 2016 and what will happen with the final Brexit deal, we are still European. A cultural festival that highlights the creative scenes of both Glasgow and Berlin can highlight the best of Europe and the best of our talents.
In 2014, many people came for the sport and fell in love with the country, our culture and our arts. We must build on that and ensure that we create a lasting tourism legacy in Scotland. Scotland and Glasgow are fantastic visitor destinations and leading tourist destinations. Events such as the 2018 European championships only help to underline that and give us a chance to celebrate all that we have to offer.
As other members have done, I start by warmly welcoming the inaugural European championships, which are coming to Glasgow. That is a huge coup for the city and for Scotland at large, just as the 2014 Commonwealth games were for our city.
As a Glasgow MSP, I take great pride in that.
My Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn constituency has significant health needs and has been greatly impacted by deprivation and health inequalities, so the legacy issue matters deeply to me. It is clear that there has been a legacy from the 2014 Commonwealth games, but we have to ask who has benefited most from it. That is a very reasonable question to ask.
I warmly welcome the 10 per cent increase in athletics participation, which Aileen Campbell mentioned in her opening speech, and the 25 per cent increase in swimming. I think that there has also been a 25 per cent increase in cycling. The increases in club membership and participation in those areas are to be applauded, as are the recent statistics on gym membership.
Some 22 local authority areas in Scotland have seen a significant increase in gym membership. Since the Commonwealth games, Glasgow Life membership has increased by 14 per cent, so there are tangible signs of legacy, but we must still ask who is benefiting most. Who has been joining the sports clubs? Which social backgrounds do they come from? Are the sports clubs that they are members of the first that they have joined, or are they members of a swimming club or a badminton club, for example? Do people ever use their gym memberships, or do they, like me, subscribe but never use them and cancel them after a year or two? Is the increase in physical activity a result of those who are already physically active becoming more active or a result of people who have never been physically active starting activities?
Those are all reasonable questions to ask and asking them is not a criticism. Clearly, there has been a legacy, but we want to work out how to maximise it and how to get those who are least likely to be physically active started on the pathway towards sporting and physical activity.
The onus falls not on the large sports providers in cities and other parts of the country, because although Glasgow Life has the infrastructure in place, local credibility is important and, as good as Glasgow Life is, it does not have local credibility. Again, that is not a criticism, but we need to ask who does have credibility in our communities where people are least likely to be physically active. I absolutely accept that, sometimes, sports clubs and their inspirational volunteers have credibility, but often it is youth clubs that have that credibility.
In my constituency, North United Communities in Maryhill and Springburn, Royston Youth Action, Young Peoples Futures in Possil, and A&M Scotland, which is expanding not just in Glasgow, but across the west of Scotland, have credibility with young people and their families. Young people might watch sports on the television with their families—perhaps with their kebabs—and talk about how great it is, but those role model community organisations are calling on them to give it a go. They will get people who are not physically active to be physically active. Credibility is all-important when we offer opportunities.
I want to talk about another group: parent councils. They might just be able to offer local credibility. St Mary’s primary school in Maryhill has no adequate sporting facilities in its playground. There is an old blaes pitch that is not fit for purpose, but the school’s parent council is hoping to secure money from the local authority and sportscotland to bring the pitch back to life. There are a number of related issues, including the pitch not being big enough to be a 3G—third generation—pitch, and we are trying to find a workaround to link up with the council’s play strategy and a pathway to formal sport via sportscotland. There might just be funding available from the local authority and sportscotland, but there is a danger that it will fall between two stools, which would be disappointing. The parent council’s vision is to have a new sports facility open in the evenings, which would be used by its community network of friends, colleagues, and youth groups. That is a special idea, and I would really love for the minister, Aileen Campbell, to come along to find out a little bit more about the plan.
I know that small funding amounts are starting to emerge, but we need funds to give leverage to delivering such ambitious projects. Therefore, I am very interested to know more about the £525,000 fund that was mentioned, as well as the £300,000 equality fund. The latter is for women and LGBTI, but it is also for those from deprived areas.
I welcome today’s debate on the 2018 European championships, which Scotland is rightly proud to be hosting in Glasgow. The opportunity to host international sport of the highest quality is always exciting, and it will create a magnificent buzz in the country and, indeed, the city. As this is the inaugural European championships, I am sure that the buzz and excitement will be heightened even further.
I am sure that we are all hoping that the championships create as many memorable moments and as much action-packed sporting excellence and engagement with the community as the Glasgow Commonwealth games did so brilliantly well. I certainly thoroughly enjoyed the many events that I went to.
On engagement, I am glad to see that 10,000 volunteers from 89 countries have applied to be part of Glasgow 2018, including 7,000 from across Scotland. It was heartening to read that a fifth of the applicants were from Glasgow, with 30 per cent under the age of 26. It is always good to see young people getting involved in events taking place in their area.
Additionally, I am sure that everyone is looking forward to cheering on team Great Britain on home ground as it competes in the aquatics, cycling, golf, gymnastics, rowing and triathlon events. We will also need to keep an eye on the continent as our athletes compete for track and field success in Berlin.
It is worth remembering that it is not just Glasgow that is looking forward to hosting events this year. My West Scotland region looks forward to taking part as well. The Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national park is set to play host to the European open-water swimming championships, which will be a great opportunity for that part of Scotland to showcase itself to an audience of more than 1 billion across Europe. The event will quite possibly be unique in the championships in that not only will a world-class sport be hosted, but the competition will be set in some of the most stunning scenery in the world. In addition, it will be a non-ticketed event, which will mean that people in the local area and from further afield will have the chance to come to our part of the country to watch some of the world’s finest athletes competing in their chosen sport without having to worry about covering the cost of tickets. We hope that visitors to the area will use the chance to explore the many other things to do and places to eat and the multitude of accommodation that is available, and thereby will extend their stay a little.
On the subject of ticket prices, although I appreciate that a number of cheaper tickets for some events are available, it seemed to me from looking at the Glasgow 2018 website that tickets for most of the finals are substantially more expensive than those for the earlier rounds of competition. I understand the need to ensure that events are not loss making, but it is incumbent on organisers to ensure that the barriers to attending sporting events are as low as possible. That goes for not just the organisers of the European championships but everyone who is involved in organising sporting events in Scotland.
Imagine being a parent who wanted to take their two children to an event to open their eyes to the wonders of a particular sport but who was denied that opportunity because of high costs. That would be a lost opportunity for not just those children but the sport in question. In the long term, high ticket prices will have the damaging effect of lowering the number of the next generation who follow and take part in sport.
As part of the process of ensuring our future sporting success and health, we must lower the amount that it costs to go and watch sportsmen and women competing at the highest level, so that more of our young people get the sporting bug from hearing their heroes cheered on by thousands of people and go on to seek to emulate their achievements. My colleague Brian Whittle spoke eloquently about his experience during his years of competition.
Although that is not the full solution, I believe that it will help us to fight the issues that we face with the health of our children and young people. When 29 per cent of Scottish children are at risk of being overweight and only 61 per cent of children between the ages of 13 and 15 are meeting the targets in the physical activity guidelines, anything that helps to encourage those children into sport must be supported. I firmly believe that keeping down the price of tickets so that more people in Scotland can attend sporting events and watch sport should play a part in that.
I remind the chamber that I am a director of Scottish Athletics.
I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the debate and I thank Glasgow 2018 for its briefing, in which it points out that Glasgow 2018 will be not just a celebration of world-class sport but an opportunity to build on the cultural legacy of the 2014 Commonwealth games. I, too, thank everyone who helped to deliver those truly great games. Just a quick jog up the hill, Edinburgh delivered world-class diving, and it will have the opportunity to do so again in 2018.
It is clear that hosting world-class events boosts our international profile and provides an environment in which we can forge new relationships and strengthen existing ones among athletes, spectators, organisers and Governments. It is important—and particularly welcome at this time—that the forthcoming Glasgow European 2018 championships will enable Scotland to develop strong links with Berlin and Germany, and that groundbreaking cultural partnership will benefit from dedicated festival funding.
I now want to focus on the sport. As someone with a lifelong interest in sport, I do not need to be convinced of its many benefits, but the challenges that are experienced by major global sporting events in delivering a meaningful legacy prove that, for a complex variety of reasons, sport, as yet, is not for everyone. Despite the Commonwealth games, Scotland has yet to become as active a nation as we would all wish it to be. In its report on sport for everyone, the Health and Sport Committee found that, to date, there was a “mixed picture” on the attempts to achieve an active legacy from the Commonwealth games.
Our understanding of that active legacy must focus on long-term, sustainable increases in participation in sport and physical activity, and just over three years on from the Commonwealth games, we have every reason to build on the great work that has already been done and to ensure that new facilities and sporting infrastructure are all used to the greatest public benefit. These European championships provide an excellent opportunity to build on efforts in Glasgow and across Scotland to increase participation, showcasing as they do a wide range of sports from swimming and diving to cycling and gymnastics.
Much of the evidence that the Health and Sport Committee heard reflected on the priority that should be given to elite sport in efforts to improve sport in Scotland. I believe that high-performance sport has an incredibly important place; after all, international competitions bring exceptional athletes and players to our cities, and they inspire, excite and enthuse thousands of players and supporters across the country. There has been a particularly significant increase in participation in athletics since the Commonwealth games, and the European championships are an ideal opportunity to build on that.
However, as others have said, it is vital that when we consider legacy, we look beyond headline attendance figures at sports facilities and on sports development programmes. We must consider who is attending and the benefits that they gain from taking part in sport and exercise. How many people never reach their potential, because they did not have the opportunity to try a sport that appealed to them or because their family income meant that they could not afford access to clothing, equipment or facilities? Members should try booking an indoor tennis court in Edinburgh for juniors for this evening—or even for next week. Even if they can find a vacant court, they will appreciate that, for too many families, the cost is prohibitive.
As has been discussed, the sport for everyone inquiry found many significant barriers to participation, from the cost of taking part in sport and difficulty in accessing suitable facilities to caring responsibilities. It is therefore crucial that further assessments of participation consider how sport and physical activity can be made more accessible to women, LGBT people, older people, minority groups and people living on low incomes. An accessible, low-maintenance velodrome at Hunters Hall would demonstrate such a commitment, and I would be grateful if the minister could respond to the request for that.
Moreover, in this year of young people, we cannot overlook the role of play in building physical literacy. Having challenging playgrounds and ensuring that outdoor wear is accessible to all so that indoor breaks become a thing of the past form part of a serious sporting legacy, too.
We know that there is a huge gap between the life expectancy of people with mental health conditions and the general population and that much of that might be related to physical health. I would therefore like us to act to make sport and physical activity more accessible to people with mental health conditions, because I do not think that that has been a big enough priority for us in the past. The evidence is there: for example, the collaboration between jogscotland and SAMH has been fantastic in providing an accessible way into low-impact and affordable exercise that not only brings physical benefits but builds social connections and support between participants.
I realise that I am running out of time, but I want to finish with a plug for exercising in the outdoors. Scotland has a great outdoors, and we must ensure that we make it part of our sporting legacy, too.
On that basis, I assure Alison Johnstone that I will walk home tonight.
If there is any indication of the power of sport, it is the fact that North Korea and South Korea managed to meet yesterday to discuss the winter Olympics taking place in South Korea next month and shook hands instead of doing anything else. Perhaps there is nothing comparable with regard to the contact sport that is Scottish politics, but in the context of this very welcome debate that the minister has introduced it strikes me that, quite unlike any other aspect of life, sport has a power to lift our sights and make things happen that would otherwise not seem possible.
I agree with Maurice Corry that the Glasgow championships will bring a buzz not just to the city but to Scotland. Given what many of us enjoyed in 2014, that can only be good. I also agree with Alison Johnstone’s powerful observation about the importance of high-performance athletes with regard to leadership and the ambitions of many people in different walks of life and across different sporting regimes. After all, how many of us are watching Andy Murray’s recovering hip with very close interest?
If I caught her correctly, the minister made two welcome financial announcements, one on LGBT and the other on community sports hubs. I am looking for a third, this time on the islands travel fund, which I have been asking her and her predecessors about for a considerable time now. She knows the argument well and she is entirely sympathetic to it. I am very grateful, too, for the work that sportscotland and the local authorities in the islands have contributed to the area. The argument is very simple: performance athletes who come from the islands and who need to improve by competing in events such as those in which Mr Whittle used to take part need to compete against the best. For people who live 180 miles away in the North Sea and who need a night, if not two, away, that means costs that others simply do not face. That was the sensible and very constructive pitch that was made to the Government and to sportscotland some time back. I hope that, in the context of the additional funds that the minister announced today that she had been able to find in the budget round for the important organisation sportscotland, she will also be able to find some ability to introduce the islands travel fund to which many have been looking forward.
Sportscotland is currently discussing with the local authorities that are most impacted—those in the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland—how a potential travel scheme might work. I will continue to keep the member updated on the point that he makes well.
I am grateful for that. We would all be very grateful if that could be brought to fruition.
The second point that I want to make is on the lottery. Many of the aspects of sport that colleagues have discussed in the chamber this afternoon relate to funding for both voluntary and professional coaching, which is the part of the system that appears to me to be hugely important for participation. As the Parliament knows, the biggest challenge that we have at the moment—the minister mentioned it in the context of her budget for sport in Scotland—is the national lottery’s reduction in funding for good causes, which has been reduced by some 14 per cent between 2015-16 and 2016-17. Lottery funding makes up 40 per cent of sportscotland’s total income. The fall in funding therefore has very serious consequences indeed.
I ask the Government to look closely at the cross-party representations that have been made in London to the UK Government about changing the regime on the turnover limit that applies to charity lotteries. There appears to be a good argument for raising that turnover limit so that the many separate charity lotteries that would provide funding for sport and other good causes would be able to do so. At the moment, many are restricted by the turnover limit, which means that they are setting up separate legal charity lotteries, with all the administration, accounting and other costs that go with that. There is a new culture secretary in London—Matthew Hancock—who is Fiona Hyslop’s opposite number. I encourage our Government to make representations there that I know have been made on a cross-party basis—including by Conservative members—to enhance that system. That is not a challenge to the existing national lottery; rather, it would potentially augment the funds that are available for sport not just in Scotland but in Wales, Northern Ireland and England as well. I hope that that can happen.
Why is that important? As the director of UK Coaching said to me the other day, the principle of how coaching works in Scotland—and indeed across all the nations and regions of the UK—is funded and supported in that way. It would make a difference, it would be important for this debate and I hope that it can happen.
It is a real pleasure to speak in this debate, which recognises the important contribution that events such as the Glasgow 2018 European championships make to Glasgow, which is my home city, and to my Kelvin constituency, in which, as in John Mason’s and other members’ constituencies, lots of events will take place. I will touch on that shortly.
It is not only Glasgow that benefits, but Scotland as well, and that is not only internationally but locally. I am so proud that my home city will host this prestigious event, building on the legacy of the 2014 Commonwealth games—“the best games”, as they have been called—that showcased our beautiful and vibrant city and, of course, our fantastic and friendly people, who live up to the saying “People make Glasgow”. They truly do.
I want to mention the continuing legacy of the 2014 games. Other members have spoken about sports membership. There has been a 13.7 per cent rise in membership of the Glasgow club. A point was raised previously about community sports hubs: 179 such hubs are up and running. That is the legacy of the Glasgow 2014 games, not just in Glasgow but throughout Scotland. That has to be welcomed and, as others have said, looked at so that we can try to improve on it.
We also have to look at the overall 40 per cent increase in women across Scotland taking part in numerous sports, including football, hockey, rugby, basketball and aquatic sports.
Obviously, the sporting benefits from the games are important, but there are also economic benefits. Indeed, it is no coincidence that Premier Inn figures show that more people have booked holidays in Glasgow this year alone than in any other part of the UK. That is not a plug, but it just shows the economic benefits that are coming forward for Glasgow and for Scotland.
The Olympic gold medallist Max Whitlock said that Glasgow crowds are the loudest that he has ever experienced. I expect that they will be even louder when world-class gymnastics returns to the SSE Hydro in my Kelvin constituency for eight action-packed days. We will also host in my constituency, along with Glasgow Green in John Mason’s constituency, the European cycling championship road races. They will start in Glasgow Green, weave their way through the city centre and go out into the surrounding countryside. That will be fantastic. Glasgow city centre and surrounding areas have experienced it previously, as they host lots of cycling races. It is a fantastic sight and it brings so many people into the city. The time trial will start from the Riverside Museum, which is also in my Kelvin constituency, and go through the city centre and the surrounding countryside. Staging the road races in the city centre provides a fantastic opportunity to showcase not just the cyclists and the people of Glasgow but the city to a massive TV audience across core European tourist markets, which is fantastic.
I want to raise an important issue that I think has been raised once or twice already. Maurice Corry is not in the chamber at the moment, but he alluded to young people and the cost of tickets. I am really pleased that our young people will be at the heart of Glasgow 2018, because we will be offering 50 per cent discounts on all ticket prices to young people and many more events will be completely free to them as part of Scotland’s year of young people, which we need to remember. That is fantastic and I hope that our young people will take up that opportunity. I look forward to speaking to Maurice Corry afterwards in regard to that.
I know that we are short of time, so I will finish by pointing out that George Square, which will be at the heart of festival 2018 and provide a wonderful location to celebrate the championships, will be linked closely in the same month to the Merchant City festival. That is a fantastic opportunity and I think that it is great that those events will be so closely linked. We will not only showcase the cyclists and world-class sports but celebrate the fantastic cultural and creative opportunities that Glasgow has to offer. I am a very proud Glaswegian and a very proud MSP for the Kelvin constituency, which will host many of the fantastic events. I look forward enormously to enjoying them as much as I enjoyed those in 2014.
I am pleased to speak in the debate and, like other members, I very much welcome the fact that the first ever European Championships will be held in Glasgow, along with Berlin, this August. As other members have already said, this is a significant boost to Glasgow and to Scotland’s profile and reputation as a host destination of choice for major sporting events. The BBC and European broadcasters have already put in place large-scale broadcast plans and, as has already been said, it is believed that an audience of more than one billion people in Europe and across the globe will be able to enjoy all the action from the championships in Glasgow and Berlin. The income that the games will bring as thousands of athletes and competitors and all the associated media and support services converge here in Scotland will be a welcome boost for the Scottish economy.
The minister did not mention that the Royal Commonwealth pool will host an event but, as a Lothian MSP, I am delighted that such an event will take place. As happened so successfully in the Commonwealth games in 2014, the diving competitions will take place at the Royal Commonwealth pool here in Edinburgh, which will show what we in Edinburgh have to offer the games. I booked my tickets online this morning in case they sold out after this debate—that could be seen as MSPs having insider information.
The Commie pool here in Edinburgh is a great asset to the capital and to Scotland. Local people have benefited from the upgrade that the facility had ahead of the 2014 games, which means that it is able to host world-class swimming and diving events and competitions.
As Maurice Corry and Sandra White mentioned, 2018 is the year of young people. I urge ministers and their agencies to go the extra mile to ensure that as many schoolchildren as possible across Scotland are able to benefit from the games, at both primary and secondary level, and are given the opportunity to enjoy the competitions. I would be interested to learn more from the Government about what complimentary tickets will be made available to schools and youth groups so that they can attend the championships, watch the exciting competitions for free and become inspired by the live performances of so many top-level European athletes.
The championships are a fantastic chance for our young people to be spectators. As Tavish Scott said—he is not in the chamber at the moment—it is important to look at transport arrangements for school pupils from Scotland’s rural and island communities to be able to attend the games. I hope that further progress will be made on that. It would be helpful if ministers could set out their plans to ensure that children are at the heart of the games, and I look forward to hearing more about that from the cabinet secretary when she closes the debate.
After every major sporting event, it is important that we take stock. As we did with the Commonwealth games, we need to look at the legacy impact on sport, physical activity and health levels. Bob Doris made some really good points on that in his excellent speech. As Brian Whittle’s amendment makes clear, the Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee has found very little evidence of an active legacy from the 2014 Commonwealth games, despite the high hopes that it would encourage more Scots to become active participants in sport through the demonstration and inspiration of success by elite sportsmen.
We accept that the games left a positive physical legacy in terms of infrastructure and new facilities, but it is clear that much more needs to be done to ensure that the opportunities that are presented by major sporting events encourage more people to begin participating in sport. I believe that helping our youngsters to be able to watch the games can play an important part in that as we try to build a healthier and more active nation.
The Commonwealth games were rightly praised for the number of volunteers who assisted and the highly positive contribution that they made. The European championships, which will present 3,000 volunteering opportunities, will also be a great opportunity in that regard. I very much welcome the fact that over 10,000 people have already shown an interest. We also need to consider how we can support the retention of those volunteers and get them involved in community sports and activities in the future.
To conclude, I welcome today’s debate. All of Scotland will want to get behind the games. Finally, I wish all the athletes who will be part of team GB the very best for a successful European championships.
I will try to speak to the motion, not ask for more money and conclude on time.
The European championships, which will be hosted by Glasgow and Berlin, are an event to look forward to. They mark an exciting era in multisport events, bringing together some of the continent’s leading sports including the existing European championships for athletics, aquatics, cycling, gymnastics, rowing and triathlon with the new golf team championships.
It may not have escaped members’ attention that I am not a Glasgow MSP.
I am, however, no less excited about the upcoming games, both for Glasgow and my area. Once again, Strathclyde country park, part of which is in my constituency, will play host to a European event. I say to Mr Mason that I will explain more about that in a moment.
Glasgow and the surrounding areas have made it clear time and again that they are up to the challenge of hosting major international events, including world-class sporting events. I note the amazing successes of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth games, where we saw our largest city made even more vibrant with the 71 competing nations and almost 5,000 athletes taking part in 17 different sports and utilising 13 venues across the central belt.
In my constituency, I am privileged to represent Strathclyde country park, which I never tire of championing in the chamber, particularly as I was born there, in the now former Bothwellhaugh village, which the park sits on. [
.] Yes, I was born in a park, Mr Adam. [
Members might be interested to know that each year the park receives thousands of visitors who take part in a huge range of activities including sailing, football, water skiing and, of course, attending Scotland’s Theme Park, one of the best funfair parks in Scotland. Those who are into their music might be interested to know that in 1994 it was the first ever venue for T in the Park, with performers including Blur, Pulp and Oasis—I am sure that Mr Mason will remember them well. The performers in Strathclyde park in 2018 will include some of the approximately 3,000 participants in the European championships when the park plays host to the rowing and triathlon events. That will build on existing success, given that it hosted the Commonwealth games triathlon event in 2014—what a success that was!
I know that all my colleagues from Lanarkshire constituencies will be delighted to have Strathclyde park playing its part in hosting Glasgow’s European championships, with the games being broadcast to an estimated 1.3 billion television viewers around the world. That will, once again, put Glasgow and Scotland on the international sporting map. Lanarkshire is but one part of that wide-reaching multi-sport event, with the Royal Commonwealth pool, Loch Lomond, Tollcross, Scotstoun, Cathkin Braes, the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome, Gleneagles and the SEC Hydro all being utilised, which will showcase the wide range of venues that are available in Scotland.
Not only will the European championships be an opportunity to showcase venues, places and spaces in Glasgow and the surrounding areas; they will deliver another extremely important opportunity. As with any large-scale event, we can look forward to welcoming to the championships not only participants—3,000 from all over the continent—but many of our friends and neighbours visiting Scotland from European nations. I hope that all those who visit the championships will enjoy Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Scotland.
As a Glasgow MSP, it gives me particular pleasure to take part in this afternoon’s debate. I am looking forward to the European championships 2018. The events will not only provide a fantastic opportunity for the whole country to witness top athletes competing in our country and experience the buzz that top sporting events give spectators; they will bring clear economic and sporting benefits, as we saw in Glasgow in 2014 with the increased number of visitors to the city, the economic growth that resulted from the games and the sheer verve and energy that the event produced.
An element of this debate is looking back to 2014 and looking forward to this year. We are right to celebrate the legacy of 2014 for sporting success and infrastructure. I recently ran along the Clyde for the length of what was the Commonwealth village site and it was amazing to see the extent of the housing there and how the area has been transformed in the past 10 years as a result of the games being held in the city. There are real benefits and advantages to see there.
However, an issue that has run through the debate is participation levels. There is no doubt that there is mixed evidence about participation levels following the games. The recent report by the Health and Sport Committee showed that there had not been any dramatic increase in participation levels; in fact, there had been a decrease in some areas. Although it is great to see an increased number of people turning out to train in athletics, which I see in my local club, Cambuslang Harriers, the household survey that the minister quoted shows that in Glasgow alone participation in sport has decreased to 73 per cent, which is the lowest level in seven years. Bob Doris made a relevant point about who benefits from the legacy of the games. The Scottish health survey statistics show that the participation rate is 80 per cent in the least deprived areas but only 57 per cent in the most deprived areas.
There is a clear challenge for all of us to overcome that. The levels of 65 per cent of people in the country who are overweight and 29 per cent who are obese are real challenges, and we have not been able to turn those figures around in the time since the Commonwealth games.
Some things that could help us to meet those challenges are further promotion of the daily mile and greater use of the school estate. I know that there are contractual issues, but even in my local area, schools often lie dormant over the holiday period and we do not make the most of their facilities.
We are coming up to consideration of the budget, and local government funding is going to be key. If we want to drive up participation levels, we need to fund sport properly. We also need to encourage employers to have more gym or training facilities on their premises.
Let us celebrate the upcoming events while also looking at the issues that can move participation forward.
Scotland has a long-standing and proud reputation for being one of the true sporting nations of the world. Famously, Scotland is the country of the Highland games and the birthplace of sports such as the shot put, shinty, and curling. Of course, we are also the home of golf.
Although sport is woven through all aspects of our society, right across the whole of our country, the sporting capital of Scotland is indisputably the city of Glasgow. As witnessed four years ago when Glasgow showcased the Commonwealth games to the world, it is unsurpassed in hosting major sporting events. The success of the 2014 Commonwealth games proves that Glasgow is the perfect choice to co-host this year’s inaugural European championships alongside Berlin.
To coincide with the European championships, a festival will be held in the city to bring together residents and visitors to celebrate Scottish culture, ensuring that the first two weeks in August will be a stand-out feature of Scotland’s offering to the world this year.
Clearly, Glasgow 2018 will bring significant social and cultural benefits, but it is also an occasion to enrich Scotland’s economy and public health.
Unlike those of the majority of members participating in today’s debate, my constituency does not fall within the boundaries of Glasgow, nor will it host any of the events held outwith the city. Nonetheless, I fully believe that Glasgow 2018 will considerably benefit the people of Rutherglen. Four of the venues for the European championships are found within 5 miles of my constituency office, so Rutherglen is perfectly placed to welcome visitors—and they would all be very welcome—to sample the sports on display, and to enjoy the atmosphere created. The benefit to Glasgow from holding such a global event is undeniable and I hope that neighbouring communities will also be able to take advantage of the positives that it will bring.
According to the post-games report into Glasgow 2014, the Commonwealth games contributed more than £740 million to Scotland’s economy, £390 million of which benefited Glasgow itself. Consequently, a staggering £350 million was pumped into the economy elsewhere across Scotland, and one can suspect that a large proportion of that was seen in nearby areas. If the 2018 championships create even a fraction of the buzz and vibrancy that the Commonwealth games brought to Glasgow and the surrounding communities in 2014, I have no doubt that it will be a resounding economic and sporting success.
As is common with the hosting of major events, new venues were built and others saw major investment due to the Glasgow games in 2014. For my constituents, the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome—which is just over the boundary in the neighbouring Glasgow Shettleston constituency—has been a welcome local addition, due to its extensive and modern gym and football facilities. The velodrome is proof that purpose-built sports venues can have a long-lasting effect if they are managed effectively.
As well as the specific venues built to be used in the 2014 games, 179 community sport hubs were established by the Scottish Government, which have helped around 150,000 people participate in sport and physical activity. When I was a member of the Health and Sport Committee, I visited several of those facilities and I experienced at first hand how they have benefited their local communities. As a direct result of the legacy of the Commonwealth games, there are now more opportunities for people to participate in a range of sports and activities, and I hope that the European championships act as a renewed impetus to get more people into physical activity.
Scotland has been recognised internationally as leading the world on strategies and policies for increasing rates of physical activity, but we cannot get complacent, and we must continually build on our successes. The best legacy that the European championships can leave is that they will inspire people in our country to live healthier and more active lifestyles, and ensure that our visitors come back to Scotland.
Before we move to closing speeches, I remind members that the Presiding Officer expects that, as a matter of courtesy, members will stay in the chamber for at least two speeches after their own contribution has been made.
This has been an excellent and mainly consensual debate, with well-informed and passionate speeches from across the chamber. It is my personal pleasure that such a debate is the first that I have taken part in as part of the new Labour sport and health team. I want to start by congratulating successive administrations of Glasgow City Council on the work that it has done to secure and prepare for the European championships later this year.
For me, the most important theme of this afternoon’s debate, which most speakers have mentioned, is legacy: continuing the groundbreaking work that was done in relation to the Commonwealth games that were held in Glasgow in 2014. Of course, the wider picture involves ensuring that proper investment helps to alleviate poverty and poor health not only across the city but across Scotland. Investment in infrastructure—in roads, stadia and housing—is crucial, as it will enable events to take place. It will be of great benefit to Glasgow and the rest of Scotland, as will the inevitable increase in tourism, which is a vitally important activity.
As we have heard, Glasgow is co-hosting the championships with Berlin, with six sports taking place in Scotland. As most speakers have mentioned, we will be showcasing cycling, golf, gymnastics, rowing, aquatics and the triathlon. As was the case with the Commonwealth games, the iconic George Square will be the very heart of the celebrations, with two events—the men’s and the women’s road races—passing through the square itself. The open-water swimming will take place in the quintessentially Scottish Loch Lomond, in one of our national parks. That will be a beautiful image of Scotland to send out to the rest of Europe.
In addition to that, the warm hospitality of the people of Glasgow, including the spectators, volunteers and staff, will show some of the best that our country has to offer. Running alongside the 11 days of sport between 2 August and 12 August will be a festival that will showcase the best of Scottish and Glaswegian culture. As we have heard from Sandra White, the merchant city festival will be part of the celebrations for the duration of the championships.
The debate was opened by the minister, who reminded us of the transformative legacy effect of the Commonwealth games and how the European championships will be an exciting addition to the sporting calendar. She also pointed out the staggering figure that 1 billion viewers across the world will watch this event.
Brian Whittle made a very good speech. As someone who was an athletics champion in the 1986 Commonwealth games, he made a very powerful speech about how we Scots love our sport. He made the very good points that we have to express concern about the health of Scots and that there is an obvious link between positive physical and mental health and physical activity. As he said, legacy does not just happen.
Anas Sarwar also made a very good speech. He talked about the lasting legacy of the Commonwealth games and mentioned the wider point that it is a vehicle of social policy. He also mentioned the important role of trade links and looking at the long-term effect on sport participation and poverty alleviation.
That is a very good point. In fact, one speaker made the point that it is important to encourage those who live in island communities, particularly those in school, to participate in the games.
Annie Wells made the point that more than 10,000 people have offered to become volunteers, which could reignite their love for sport. We have lessons to learn from past events. As she said, one of the worries is that one third of adults in Scotland do not meet the guidelines for physical activity.
Claire Baker said that although Glasgow is the centre, this event is not limited purely to Glasgow. She remembered the Clyde-siders—volunteers at the Commonwealth games who made a magnificent contribution. She also made the important point that the visitor impact study showed that the 700,000 visitors who came to the 2014 games made an economic contribution of £228 million.
Maurice Corry made an important point about looking forward to the memorable moments of the championship. He also said that a fifth of those who have applied to be volunteers come from Glasgow, and I agreed with his point that it is very encouraging that so many young people are interested in volunteering.
I agree with Alison Johnstone that we need to build up a cultural legacy and have strong international links with Berlin and Germany, and that although sport, unfortunately, is not yet for everyone, we need to have this active legacy.
I was very impressed with Tavish Scott’s contribution. In a short speech that was wide ranging, he managed to mention North and South Korea, Andy Murray’s hip operation and the islands travel fund, so he gets the award for packing the most material into four minutes that I am aware of.
Finally, Sandra White mentioned the 50 per cent discount for young people, which is very valid.
I apologise to those whom I have not had the time to mention. The key issue today is about securing and further promoting the legacy of the Commonwealth games. This is a chance to celebrate Scottish culture and promote Scotland as well as to create a lasting legacy to fight poverty and inequality.
It has been like a Glasgow love-in this afternoon.
As I am sure many of you know, before I entered Parliament I was a volunteer netball coach and umpire, although that was not my day job. Coaching netball showed me the direct and positive influence that sport has on children, and particularly on young girls. Young people must be at the heart of our conversation.
I was pleased to hear that the minister met people who play walking netball this morning. Brian Whittle stated that there has been an uptake in Netball Scotland membership, which is fantastic, but I must point out that such sports are not accessible to everyone. I will talk about legacy a little bit later.
As for the matter of 11 days, seven sports and two host cities, John Mason and Anas Sarwar highlighted that two fine cities—Glasgow and Berlin—have an opportunity to develop closer links in trade, in sport and in culture. I am sure that all of us will support both the athletes and Glasgow and the outer regions that will be involved in the championships.
Miles Briggs is delighted that the swimming will take place at the Tollcross international swimming centre, that the synchronised swimming will take place at the Scotstoun sports campus and that the diving will take place at the Royal Commonwealth pool in Edinburgh. He has already booked his tickets—lucky boy.
The cycling will bring the four Olympic disciplines of track, road, mountain bike and BMX together for the first time, and the competitions will be staged at Glasgow’s Chris Hoy velodrome. I am sure that Clare Haughey is right when she says that that will have a lasting effect, but I question whether it will benefit everyone from all walks of life.
I was astounded to hear from the minister that the championships will have a television audience of more than 1 billion. We know that Scottish tourism is worth more than £11 billion to the economy. Maurice Corry set the scene with stunning settings such as Loch Lomond, which is set against the impressive backdrop of Ben Lomond. The event will see many more visitors come to Scotland. Our Scottish businesses and tourism will be on display, and people will enjoy the immense, breathtaking scenery that we can offer.
This is, therefore, a time to offer help to the sectors that are connected to the games and to make sure that they get the most out of it. A collective effort to get the most from the games will help Scotland in the long run and will result in lots more visitors and international travellers. VisitScotland’s contribution will be a key part of the success.
Claire Baker highlighted the visitor impact study for the 2014 Commonwealth games, which showed the boost that the games gave to the tourism economy. Let us hope that the same will be true of the European championships. We look forward to welcoming first-time visitors to Scotland, too.
Moving on to legacy, it seems that the success or failure of the games will be determined in three ways. First, it will be seen in how well our athletes do. I am sure that we will perform tremendously and that we wish all our athletes the very best. Secondly, it will be seen in how well the host city welcomes people from the competing nations. Glaswegians will warmly welcome more than 3,000 inspiring elite athletes from 52 countries. The third aspect is the legacy of the games, which most members have talked about today. Some have agreed and some have disagreed about the legacy of the championships, but the work is now done and we need to harness the fervour of the games to promote sport and active lifestyles.
Bob Doris agrees that there are concerns about legacy and wants to ask deeper questions about how we will deliver that legacy, such as “Who is taking up sport?” and “How can we get the inactive to become active?”
Brian Whittle mentioned that the Health and Sport Committee recently reported that there is no evidence of an active legacy from the 2014 Commonwealth games, although the SNP reminded us over Christmas of the slight increase in weightlifting among Scots. Perhaps that increase is a good thing, because heavy work will be required to ensure that Glasgow 2018 has a lasting legacy.
Alison Johnstone said that sport is not for everyone, but we have every reason to build increased participation and accessibility. As she mentioned, family incomes may be a barrier—the costs can be prohibitive.
Anas Sarwar made the excellent point that we should ensure that there is a long-term effect on employment, on poverty alleviation and on getting more people from working-class backgrounds to participate in active sport. There is also the serious point that a long-lasting legacy of active health would help Scotland’s physical and mental health.
Brian Whittle reminded us that Scotland has one of the worst obesity records among OECD countries, with two thirds of adults in Scotland being overweight, including 29 per cent who are obese. Worryingly, 29 per cent of Scottish children are at risk of being overweight, including being obese.
Sandra White told us that, in the year of young people, young people are able to access free or discounted tickets, which is fantastic. Miles Briggs hopes that complimentary tickets will be given to Scottish schools.
The Scottish Conservatives believe that a lasting legacy is essential to encourage Scotland to become healthier. That would allow us all to lead not only longer but healthier lives. I am sure that we all share the ambition to get the whole of Scotland active, and a strong legacy would help us to get there.
Annie Wells hopes to see further community engagement and involvement at grassroots level but acknowledges the great interest in volunteering that has been shown by hundreds of local people across Glasgow.
In a very good speech, Tavish Scott spoke about the important issues of national lottery funding and the impact of dropping lottery ticket sales on the funding that is available for sportscotland. That proves that we value national lottery funding and it highlights our reliance on the national lottery’s contributions. It is a cross-party issue, and I pledge my support for working out how we can encourage more national lottery ticket sales.
I congratulate Glasgow on securing the bid and wish everyone the best of luck for a successful event.
I thank members for their speeches. Clearly, there is a lot of support across the chamber for the Glasgow 2018 European championships and Scotland’s thriving events industry.
We know from the analysis of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth games—which were the best ever Commonwealth games—that the economic, social, sporting and cultural benefits of the games can be felt right across Scotland. Indeed, we know that the Commonwealth Games Federation’s co-ordinating commission formally congratulated those who were involved in planning and delivering that legacy, calling it a blueprint for future games.
During the debate, a lot of reference has been made to the importance of the impact through what we can do in communities. It is important to emphasise that community sport hubs are part of sportscotland’s legacy commitment from the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth games and provide a fantastic opportunity to build on that success. Clare Haughey talked about her visits to the hubs. There are now 181 hubs up and running, and the Scottish Government, through sportscotland, is investing £500,000 to support the delivery of a sporting legacy for communities right across Scotland. There will be 200 hubs up and running by 2020.
Far from being negative about the legacy of the Commonwealth games, I was hoping to get across the point that, as I said in my speech, it is very difficult to have a positive physical legacy.
I agree with Bob Doris that the legacy in the city centres has been fantastic, but how will the Scottish Government take that out into the communities?
That is exactly the point that I want to make. Bob Doris was very clear about the importance of local community role models and their credibility, and that is what the community sports hubs that have been established as part of the legacy of the Commonwealth games have been focusing on. As I said, there are more community sports hubs to come—there will be 200 by 2020—and their main focus will be on the Go live! Get active! programme, which supports the community sports hubs in establishing new sport and physical activity sessions. They will target those people in the community who are most inactive and will use sport or physical activity to improve health, wellbeing and social cohesion in the local area.
Those points were made by James Kelly, John Mason and Bob Doris.
Alison Johnstone made the important point that we need to talk about physical activity generally. Play activity and outdoor play are also important, and walking is the easiest and cheapest of physical activities.
We support the Labour Party’s amendment. I pay tribute to the bid team and previous Glasgow City Council administrations for securing the Commonwealth games and its legacy and for securing the European championships. I also pay tribute to the current Glasgow City Council administration and the delivery team for their enthusiasm in taking forward the delivery of the 2018 European championships.
Points have been made during the debate that reflect the importance of the legacy of events, and we have heard examples of that. Through our national events strategy, “Scotland the Perfect Stage”, we are committed to the delivery of a robust events impact methodology that balances economic outcomes and impacts. That was referred to by Claire Baker in relation to the Ryder cup and in welcoming the golf—a new European championship event—to Gleneagles, which is in her region. We will continue to promote the ambition to host major events in Scotland.
With less than seven months to go until the championships begin, the organisation of the event is gathering pace and excitement is building. They are the first combined European championships and they will include seven sports and many of the best athletes in Europe. As well as Berlin, six local authorities in Scotland are involved in the event’s delivery, and the championships will be broadcast to more than 1 billion people around the globe. That is very exciting, and I hope that Richard Lyle’s enthusiasm for the championships, despite his being a non-Glasgow MSP, is shared by everybody else in the chamber.
Scotland has developed a strong reputation as a world-class host of major events.
My voice might also be a bit strained.
From the Ryder cup to the MTV Europe music awards, we have a strong reputation for hosting events, and Glasgow is currently ranked number 5 in the world in the SportBusiness ultimate sports city awards.
There will be a lot happening outside Glasgow, too. With 12 venues in six different local authority areas, our approach to the championships will mean that existing venues and outstanding facilities are built on and developed.
Miles Briggs and Maurice Corry seemed to be unaware of the young person ticketing policy, which is one of our targets as 2018 is the year of young people. However, Sandra White talked about concessions. As a result of the debate, we will share information with members about the young person ticketing policy so that they can help to promote it. There will be a concession pricing strategy for families, single-parent families and those on low incomes. There will also be group discounts for large groups of young people and free events will be promoted to young people, in particular.
I am particularly interested in the broadcast reach of the championships. The potential television audience will be more than 1 billion people around Europe and beyond, and there will be more than 2,700 hours of programming, which will, as Annie Wells said, promote Scotland as a welcoming destination. As Maurice Corry mentioned, the beauty of Loch Lomond, which will be seen in the open-water swimming competition, will be a great advert for Scotland. The championships will also be a chance to reinforce Scotland’s position as a European nation, and we will ensure that the impression that we give is one of welcome.
With Festival 2018, there will be cultural opportunities that we will share with the year of young people, as 19 of the 34 successful bids for the programme will celebrate young people.
The European championships will, once again, put Scotland on the international stage. They will provide opportunities not just for Glasgow but for the whole country to get involved and to continue to enhance our reputation. I hope that members will help to promote the championships, especially if events are taking place in their constituency. Please book tickets early and take the time between 2 and 12 August to go and support our athletes. I ask people to create an even louder supportive wall of noise than Brian Whittle experienced, to support our athletes and to support this exciting new sporting event, which is a first for Scotland and for Europe. I support the motion.