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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Jeremy Armstrong

Paralympian Ellie Simmonds urges Tories to invest in sport after years of savage cuts

Swimming legend Ellie Simmonds has urged the Government to invest in sport after the Mirror highlighted years of Tory cuts.

Ellie, 27, called for greater funding after swimmer Adam Peaty recently hit out at pool closures across the country.

A Mirror investigation in May examined the legacy of the London 2012 Olympics. It found almost 1,000 local council football pitches and sports fields have been lost since 2010.

Between 2012 and 2016, 600 youth centres closed, 3,500 youth workers lost their jobs and 140,000 youth service places were cut.

UK Active, which represents 4,000 private and public pools, gyms and leisure facilities, predicts 79% of pools could shut in the next six months.

Ellie, a former paralympian set to compete in Strictly Come Dancing, said: “Sport is one of the great loves of the nation and over the past few months we’ve had a lot of problems due to Covid.

Since 2010 Tory cuts have seen 1,000 sporting venues shut (Jonathan Hipkiss/Birmingham Mail)

“I know that the heating costs are also really high but there are also a lot of pools closing and I just hope that the Government gets as many schoolchildren as possible learning to swim. It is so, so important.

"We need to show the Government and make them more aware there is a problem – we need to put money towards grassroots sport and the infrastructure of venues.”

Freedom of Information requests made by the BBC to UK councils last week revealed 65 pools had closed.

The pools had either closed their doors temporarily or permanently in the three years to March 2022.

Adam Peaty of Team England (Getty Images for Speedo)

A lack of staff, rising energy costs and chemical shortages had created a “perfect storm” for centres.

Ellie also spoke of the problems in cities such as Newcastle, where pool closures have left the local swimming club looking for a permanent home since 2013. She said: “People waiting eight years for a pool – that needs to be highlighted and changed.”

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said the new Sandwell Aquatics Centre has been developed as a result of Birmingham hosting the Commonwealth Games.

It added: “It will create a lasting legacy for community swimming in one of the most disadvantaged areas in the West Midlands.

“We have also provided an unprecedented £1billion of public money to ensure the survival of the grassroots, professional sport and leisure sectors.

“This includes the £100million National Leisure Centre Recovery Fund which secured the survival and reopening of more than 1,100 pools.”

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