Bristol council plan to slash sports pitches budget

Eastville Park bowling green Image copyright Geograph/Mike Faherty
Image caption Eastville Park bowling green is one of the grounds which could be affected

A cash-strapped council has launched a public consultation into proposals to cut spending on sports pitches.

Bristol City Council wants to make the sporting provision in its parks budget "cost neutral".

Plans under consideration include increasing the cost of pitch hire for local sports clubs, or passing control of pitches to third parties.

Mayor Marvin Rees said the current situation was "no longer tenable" and innovative solutions were needed.

About 20 council-funded grounds, including those used for cricket, bowls and football, could be affected.

Mr Rees said: "We have ensured that the provision of sport in Bristol's parks is sustainable, but the current situation of it being heavily subsidised by the council while a reduction to parks budget is required is no longer a tenable position.

"This is not only an issue facing Bristol, but councils nationwide and I would encourage everyone to contribute to the consultation with their feedback or innovative solutions to help shape the future of our parks sporting facilities and ensure Bristol's sporting scene is active and resilient.''

'National problem'

Alan Bowery, from Canford Bowls Club in Westbury-on-Trym, said he was "sympathetic" to the council which was "in a very difficult situation".

"There are compromises to be made, but they need to look at the intrinsic values, not just the financial values of what good it's doing," he said.

"If it's keeping people off the National Health Service, or away from [GP] surgeries, then it's got to be good news."

Rob Acton-Campbell, from the Bristol Parks Forum, added: "There is going to be more and more pressure on volunteers and that is a national problem.

"The parks really do benefit people, and the NHS is going to benefit from people using parks, so somehow we have to get that budget moved from the councils to the NHS."

The consultation is running on the Bristol City Council website for six weeks.

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