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Protest planned over ‘youth sports’ programme in Tower Hamlets being axed

PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 July 2017 | UPDATED: 08:27 19 July 2017

East End youngsters get professional sports coaching as an Olympic legacy... but for how much longer? Picture: THYSF

East End youngsters get professional sports coaching as an Olympic legacy... but for how much longer? Picture: THYSF

THYSF

Hundreds of youngsters plan a town hall demonstration at tonight’s Tower Hamlets council meeting to protest at youth sports programme face being scrapped through lack of funds.

Yongsters plan to protest at Tower Hamlets Council over youth sport funding cuts. Picture: Mike BrookeYongsters plan to protest at Tower Hamlets Council over youth sport funding cuts. Picture: Mike Brooke

They are presenting a petition with 5,000 names calling for cash from a £3.8 million council kitty to be used to save the Tower Hamlets Youth Sport Foundation.

It is left to schools to pay for professional coaches and activities through the foundation as part of the 2012 Olympics legacy.

But the schools are now strapped for cash with the government changing their funding formula announced this week.

“They don’t have the funds any more,” the foundation’s chair Chris Dunne tells tomorrow’s East London Advertiser. “So we’re calling for the council take over the sports staff as a self-funding business unit.

“We don’t have the means to keep the programme running ourselves, which is a tragedy with Tower Hamlets named ‘best improved borough’ at the London Youth Games just two weeks ago.”

None of the council’s £3.8m sports funding is being used for children, the foundation maintains.

Mr Dunne, former head teacher at Langdon Park School which has been hosting the foundation since 2011, is to address tonight’s council meeting to plead with councillors to use the sports kitty for the youth programme.

Mayor John Biggs will tell the meeting that he would have had to step in if the foundation didn’t exist—but now there’s no spare cash with the council facing its own cuts.

The foundation gets funds directly from the schools to run training and professional coaching and to send a team to the Youth Games.

But it has been on shaky ground since the government back in 2011 scrapped the national School Sports Partnership linking schools to sports clubs.

The 2012 Olympics put fresh wind in the sales of ‘host’ boroughs like Tower Hamlets, with head teachers putting cash into the foundation. The schools have since been dropping out because of their own budget constraints.

Wanting the council to run youth sports “is a nice idea”, say town hall insiders, but the authority is facing its own £58m government cuts.

The Mayor told the paper: “I know they’d like to see us take them over entirely, but we just don’t have the money without cutting other services. We’ll do all we can to fill any gaps should foundation close.”

That includes making sure Tower Hamlets competes in the London Youth Games, the mayor promised.


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