Health (Role of Sport and Leisure)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 21 March 2019.

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Photo of Gordon Lindhurst Gordon Lindhurst Conservative

2. To ask the Scottish Government what role participation in sport and leisure plays in the health of the population. (S5O-03027)

Photo of Joe FitzPatrick Joe FitzPatrick Scottish National Party

Being physically active is one of the very best things that we can do for our physical and mental health, whether through sport, active forms of recreation such as walking or gardening, or active travel.

There is abundant evidence that physical activity helps to prevent heart disease, strokes, diabetes and a number of cancers. It plays an important part in helping us maintain a healthy weight and reduces the risk of developing depression. Sport and physical activity are also powerful means of addressing isolation, building community cohesion and developing confidence.

Photo of Gordon Lindhurst Gordon Lindhurst Conservative

The minister may be aware of cuts to Edinburgh Leisure’s budget, which are symptomatic of the financial pressures that this Government has put on local authorities. Edinburgh Leisure has recently announced price increases and a 10 per cent reduction in the discount rate for over-65s. Does the minister agree that making sport and leisure facilities more expensive for elderly people in particular is a false economy, especially in Edinburgh, given the crisis in social care?

Photo of Joe FitzPatrick Joe FitzPatrick Scottish National Party

Obviously

, all local authorities have to make decisions, in the same way that the Government has to, about how they prioritise those areas for which they are responsible—and those areas that are within the City of Edinburgh Council’s responsibilities are just that. I assume that the member does not support the idea of the Government telling councils how to go about their business.

My understanding is that, when the City of Edinburgh Council was deciding its budget, the Conservatives did not make a proposal to provide further funding to Edinburgh Leisure. Furthermore, had the Conservative Party’s proposals for the Scottish budget been agreed to in this chamber, £500 million less would be available across the whole budget, which would have impacted on all councils, including the City of Edinburgh Council.

Photo of Mark McDonald Mark McDonald Independent

Danestone medical practice in my constituency is one of more than 700 park run practices in the United Kingdom where patients and staff are encouraged to get active at their local park run, whether by walking, jogging or running. Does the minister agree that it was great to see more medical practices taking on the status of a park run practice? Will he join me in congratulating the volunteers who put on Aberdeen park run, which will celebrate its 400th event this weekend?

Photo of Joe FitzPatrick Joe FitzPatrick Scottish National Party

I agree with all the member’s points. Park runs are an amazing phenomenon that have taken off across Scotland. I might be signing myself up for something in saying this, but I encourage members to go along and experience the fun. I think that I have, indeed, just signed myself up to go to the one in Dundee. [

Laughter

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