Calls have been made for the Government to review sports funding after new data revealed participation is waning in many parts of the North East in the wake of the Olympic Games.
The percentage of people who took part in sport on average once a week has dropped by 5.1% in Newcastle since 2010, figures released by Sport England showed. It was a similar picture in County Durham and Gateshead, which saw declines of 4.3% and 3.6% respectively, while Northumberland’s participation dropped by 1.6%.
MPs in the region have hit out at the Government’s decision to cut the School Sports Partnership schemes and said leaders must rethink where money is spent to capitalise on the Olympic legacy.
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Sunderland West and Washington, said: “These figures show a mixed picture for the region; while it’s great to see Sunderland making such big strides, it’s really concerning that others are going backwards.
“The main legacy of the Olympic and Paralympic Games was supposed to be a significant boost to the numbers of people taking part in sport, but the Tory-led Government have undermined that – scrapping free swimming for children and pensioners, abolishing School Sport Partnerships, and slashing funding for council facilities.
“Sport, and particularly team sports, can have a huge impact on the quality of life of children and adults alike, from the obvious health benefits to character development and employability. It’s time the Government reviewed how it funds sport in this country to ensure that we can harness those benefits.” Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central, said: “This Government abolished ring-fenced funding for the national School Sport Partnerships and ended recommendation for two hours of PE in schools each week, which has obviously had more of an impact locally than the afterglow of the London Olympics.
“With obesity one of the biggest threats to health in the North East, these figures are really alarming but it does seem as if Sunderland is bucking the trend. We need to understand what it is they are doing right.”
% Who took part in sport at least once in the past week - 2013/14
Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne