Local authorities are on course to lose control of almost 100 outdoor sports facilities over the next three years, according to a survey conducted by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The not-for-profit funding body’s State of UK Parks study found that a number of the 189 councils questioned were considering disposing of or transferring the ownership or management of 98 facilities because of budget cuts and lack of resources.
The majority of those (52) were expected to be transferred to local community groups, while 20 were expected to be transferred to the voluntary sector.
Twelve further outdoor sports facilities are estimated to be in the care of a trust by the end of 2019, while three are likely to be sold off completely.
If the projections are correct, it indicates an increase on the last three years (2013-16) when 66 local authority-owned outdoor sports facilities were sold or transferred.
Half (33) were transferred to community groups, while four were sold off completely.
The National Lottery has invested £850m in parks – and outdoor sports facilities – but budget cuts are having an adverse effect and leading to closures. As a result of local authority budget squeezes, the Heritage Lottery Fund predicts that more facilities will be managed by a wider variety of organisations in the future.
“These are financially tough times and if we are to successfully halt the onset of decline in our parks and avoid wasting this investment, we need to come together now to find innovative and sustainable models of funding and maintaining these highly valued community spaces,” said Heritage Lottery Fund chief executive Ros Kerslake.
First published www.sportsmanagement.co.uk, 7 September 2016, written by Matthew Campelli