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Sporting youngsters to lobby Council tonight

SUPPORTERS OF the Tower Hamlets Youth Sports Foundation (THYSF) will be lobbying the Council tonight to protest against a lack of funding for this organisation – and its extensive programme of sport enjoyed by young people across the borough.

The Independent Group of Councillors has tabled a motion in support of THYSF – and is now waiting to see whether the majority Labour Group will allow it to be debate or, as it usually does, will manoeuvre it off the agenda.

More information on the campaign can be found here:

The motion reads as follows.

Mayor John Biggs Failing the Youth and Sport in Tower Hamlets – His Austerity Axes Olympic Legacy

Proposed by: Cllr Maium Miah

Seconded by: Cllr Oliur Rahman

The Council Notes:

Residents and Tower Hamlets Independent Group of councillors are disappointed to learn that the number of people playing a sport or taking another form of exercise at least once a week has fallen since the Olympic Games were held in east London.

Although participation in sport has risen since 2005, the Olympics were supposed to leave a legacy of greater participation in sport after the event – and it’s not happening in East London. A particular worry is that the highest decline has been among ethnic minority communities (a drop of 1.4%) and least well-off sections of the community (a drop of 2.9%).

The Games cost £8.77 billion to stage – but already 8,700 fewer people are participating in sport or exercise at least once a week than were doing so in 2012. The main factors influencing whether people take exercise include whether they have facilities nearby and whether they can afford to use them. Sport England figures show that overall Council spending on local sports has fallen by over a quarter (£389 million) over the last five years – and this is thought to be contributing to the decline in participation rates.

Cllr Ohid Ahmed, Shadow Lead for Community Safety and Partnerships, said: “It is sad to see that the number of people participating in sports at a grassroots level has begun to fall. This is not the Olympic legacy we were hoping for – or that we were promised. With John Biggs creating uncertainty over the future of our youth clubs and other community centres, it’s going to be difficult to keep our young people healthy.”

In relation to Tower Hamlets Council, the Trustees of the Tower Hamlets Youth Sport Foundation (THYSF) are lobbying the Members for support after the breakdown of their discussions with the Mayor and Council last month – after they first raised the need for Council action with the Mayor in August 2015.

Mayor John Biggs inherited over £400m reserves from the former Mayor Lutfur Rahman and his administration which were put aside through robust and painstaking fiscal management to protect the residents and key local services from cuts and closures.

The Council Believes:

The Trustees of the Tower Hamlets Youth Sport Foundation are lobbying for the support of our residents and elected representatives to help them save what is currently the most successful youth sport partnership in the country.

Our children are in danger of losing, as the article by Seb Coe in the Evening Standard (15 May 2017), circulated by THYSF to Members, shows the alarming deterioration in youth sport in our country as a whole, the final page of this attachment shows how everything Lord Coe would wish to see available nationally is currently still in place in Tower Hamlets – for some of the most economically deprived youngsters in the UK. Not for much longer however, since the breakdown of our discussions with the Mayor and Council officers last month – after we first raised the need for Council action with the Mayor in August 2015 – now seems certain to result in the staff being made redundant and the organisation and its activities dismantled.

The email from THYSF, among other facts and information, stated that “For those of you unfamiliar with the organisation, the second attachment gives just a flavour of the range of activities and opportunities available to youngsters in Tower Hamlets right this minute. None of which is provided by or through the Council. Most of which will go if this organisation is allowed to go under.”

“For historical reasons (this all started with the national School Sports Partnerships scheme in 2005) the staff of THYSF are all employed by Langdon Park School (where I was the Headteacher for 21 years until 2013), but they did this on behalf of the Borough’s schools and by agreement with the Council. Langdon Park, having done an extraordinary job for Tower Hamlets for 12 years, now quite understandably needs to be relieved of this responsibility. Trustees of THYSF believe the obvious answer is for the staff to be adopted as a business unit in the Council’s sports department, which currently and by design focuses nearly all of its work on adult provision. The Mayor disagrees, and wants Trustees to take responsibility for employing the staff, something we are very clear we do not have the capacity to do.”

The Council Resolves:

John Biggs should listen to THYSF, Tower Hamlets Independent Group, our young people and residents by transparently addressing the points raised herein.

John Biggs needs to act – beyond platitudes – and update the members and residents about the issues raised in this motion.

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