The quality of life in Britain's towns and cities is seriously under threat because of cuts in Government spending, according to an independent survey commissioned by the Association of Metropolitan Authorities.
One-third of district councils, more than half of London boroughs and 75 per cent of metro-politan authorities have spent less on leisure services this year, writes Diane Spencer. Sport bore the brunt with a 50 per cent cut overall, parks and playschemes came next with reductions of just over a third and the arts by 31 per cent. Recent reports by the Royal Society of Arts and the Secondary Heads Association have pointed to the decline in sport, physical education, dance and drama in and out of school.
And the AMA's report You Just Don't Know What You've Got Till it's Gone, which adds weight to the evidence, said: "When combined with the deteriorating state of provision and higher charges for local authority facilities, the access for young people to a range of arts and sports experiences must give cause for concern. This appears to undermine the Government's recent sports policy initiative for competitive sport, Raising the Game."
Chris Heinitz, the AMA's chair of leisure and tourism, said: "It is bizarre that on the one hand we see Government policies on local government finance leading to closure of leisure facilities while on the other hand lottery funding is available for new arts and sports facilities. It appears that the lottery is a sticking plaster hiding the cancer of the Government's own creation."
The report, by the centre for leisure and tourism studies at the University of North London, concludes that the effect of cuts in leisure services will be even worse next year, particularly in cities.
You Just Don't Know What You've Got 'Till it's Gone is free from the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, 35 Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BJ