Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Celebrating the Olympics in Cambridge

Our local Councils are currently planning how to celebrate the Olympics in 2012. Cambridge has a proud sporting history, and it is likely that the Olympic Torch relay will pass through the City.

But from what I have heard so far, I am disappointed that the Councils are not planning to do more to use the Olympics to do more to promote more participation in mainstream sport, and will be taking this up with the Council.

Sport has the potential to address many of the policy areas public bodies spend a fortune of taxpayers money tackling the symptoms of - health problems, obesity, anti-social behaviour, lack of community engagement etc. It is also the area where most voluntary work is carried out by individuals. And the Council is failing these volunteers. They tried to stop students using the public open spaces for training, and I know, for example, the rowing community in Cambridge feels very let down by the City Council - they are seriously under-represented on the Cam Conservators, and so have little formal say over river management - which is currently holding back development of rowing in the City. The Lib Dems seem to see rowing as elitist and irrelevant to Cambridge, despite the efforts being made by clubs such as St Radegund, which I am involved in, to introduce more people to the sport.

In this context, this week I met with the prospective organisers who wish to restart the Cambridge City Half Marathon. Every similar city to Cambridge seems to have a half marathon - the previous successful Cambridge event stopped around 1995 - I understand due to lack of support from public bodies. They have setup a Facebook group, and I am meeting with Council officials and lobbying Councillors to support its return. Whether this support is forthcoming will be a key test to me of whether the Lib Dems running Cambridge have any intention of supporting my vision of Cambridge as a place renowned for its fit, healthy and sporty residents.

1 comment:

Equinox said...

Me again

(Sorry to be a pest but it goes with the territory of any organisation that chooses to take the only road I've ever lived down during life in Cambridge (where I was born) that both parents and grandparents also lived down).


I used to go to Morley School. Until very recently, I could go there and play football, go rollerblading amongst other things. I now see that under the Education Act 1996, it is an offence for me to go rollerblading or play unauthorised ballgames in my old primary school

I've noticed that lots of similar barriers have gone up at Homerton College - where, during my primary school days we used to have lots of PE sessions with the student teachers and where, as children we could go and play football and pick apples in the orchards. Not anymore - it's an offence.

Ditto with Hills Road Sixth Form College - yep - used to get there too. They built a very expensive sports centre (back in the day) on what was once a big playing field. Costs a fair bit to use the facilities though.

Luard/Sedley Taylor Road playing fields - belonged to Hills Road but then someone put some big gates up that stopped us from playing football, walking dogs, and doing general exercise that we used to be able to do for free. Again, using them by jumping over fences/walking through the gap in the hedge on Long Road is an offence.

So it's all very well complaining about "celebrating the olympics" when the powers that be (and political parties of all colours are to blame for this) have allowed, in my view three significant local facilities that we could all use, to be completely shut off to local people.

This is a situation replicated nationwide.