Playing fields protection call

Coun Howard Henshaw (below) has used Great Britain's Olympic success to raise the issue of school playing fields.
Coun Howard Henshaw (below) has used Great Britain's Olympic success to raise the issue of school playing fields.
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SCHOOLS should be given more help to preserve their sporting facilities, according to a county councillor.

Liberal Democrat Howard Henshaw, who represents St Annes North on Lancashire County Council, has spoken out after Great Britain’s Olympic success sparked a national debate on the issue of funding for sport in state schools.

Coun Howard Henshaw

Coun Howard Henshaw

Coun Henshaw, who is president of Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Athletics Club, claims not enough is being done to help schools keep hold of their playing fields.

He said: “I’m always very keen for schools to preserve their playing areas and there should be a national policy for that.”

Coun Henshaw cited the recent example of the Charles Saer Community Primary School, in Fleetwood, having to halve the size of its playing facilities in order to accommodate an expansion of the school building because current rules do not allow primary schools to build above ground floor level.

He said: “That was an instance of playing fields being taken away and I was against it, although I seem to be a lone voice in that.”

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While Team GB has encountered extraordinary success in cycling at the London Games, there is now little provision made for the sport in schools.

Vice-president of the Cleveleys Road Club and cycling enthusiast Les Cross says schools could make more use of existing facilities in their area in order to provide a competitive arena for their pupils, like those found at Palatine Leisure Centre, South Shore, which opened a new one kilometre long road racing track last year. Mr Cross said: “It’s very difficult to provide facilities for cycling in schools but there should be more encouragement to use the Palatine track. If schools could get together and have competitions there then they would be able to push cycling more.”

Sarah Oxley, who runs the Gym Mania gymnasium, in Fleetwood, says the Government should also think about providing more support to sports clubs and the voluntary sector to help youngsters get into sport.

She said: “There needs to be more investment. Hopefully through the Olympics people have realised what hard work people put into it though.”

Prime Minister David Cameron has waded into the row by insisting schools have a responsibility to provide sporting excellence - but his critics hit back saying the coalition has slashed funding for PE.

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