Scottish Government fails to ease concerns over leisure facilities

Scottish Government Ministers have today failed to respond to concerns raised by Gordon Lindhurst MSP for the future of bodies such as Edinburgh Leisure.


The recent Barclay review into non-domestic rates recommended that rates relief for arms-length external organisations be scrapped. The consequence of this could be bills for millions of pounds for bodies such as Edinburgh Leisure.


During Question Time today in the Scottish Parliament, Gordon Lindhurst, MSP for Lothian Region, asked Aileen Campbell, Minister for Public Health and Sport, about the negative health consequences of leisure facilities being rolled back or costs going up if the Government adopts the recommendation.


The MSP said:


“The Barclay Review has floated the recommendation of ending rates relief for arms-length external organisations, such as Edinburgh Leisure.


This would potentially foot them with a bill of millions of pounds.


If the Scottish Government decides to go ahead and implement that recommendation, is the Minister worried about the potential effects on health if public leisure facilities are stripped back or made more expensive as a result?”


In response the Minister said that the Finance Secretary was still looking at the recommendation and would consult with stakeholders ahead of publishing an implementation plan by the end of the year.


Speaking after asking his question, Gordon said:


“I am disappointed that the Minister did not respond directly to concerns about some of the risks posed by implementing the recommendation of the Barclay Review, that could have serious consequences for ALEOs such as Edinburgh Leisure.


Recreation facilities are vitally important to the health and wellbeing of our society. Only a few weeks ago we were hearing that children as young as two have been attending a specialist weight programme run by NHS Lothian. That and other health issues are not going to get better if affordable access to leisure facilities across Edinburgh and beyond are cut back or made more expensive.


The SNP Government needs to think about this seriously. I will continue to monitor this situation and follow up with the Minister to ensure that concerns are heard.”