Friday, 25 November 2016

Save our track

Blaydon Harriers have been based at Shibdon Road, Blaydon since 1963, where we use an all weather running track.  This month it came to light that Gateshead Council are looking to replace the track with 5 a side football pitches.  A decision being made next month (December)!

Closing the track will deprive not just the 200 or so members of Blaydon Harriers who use the track for training, but also other organisations such as Ryton Tri, who also use the track, of a vital facility.

Blaydon Harriers cater for and encourage fitness and running for those from the age of 5 upwards.  So it seems odd, to my mind,  that the Council want to take away such an important and popular facility.  Especially when one of its targets as a Council is to promote healthy living and reduce obesity rates.

Gateshead Council's own website will tell you that 68.9% of adults in Gateshead have excess weight and that 'this is significantly worse than the England average...' and 19.9% of 10 - 11 year olds were obese in 2014/15.

Gateshead Strategic Partnership - Joint Strategic Needs Assessment states that only 27.1% of adults 18+ undertake moderate physical activity in the Blaydon Ward.  The 3rd lowest figure of all Gateshead Wards (the second lowest being Ryton - from where Blaydon Harriers attract a number of members).

I believe the decision to replace the track with football pitches is purely financial.  But will the 5 a side pitches attract the same numbers and age range of people?  If not then this could possibly have a detrimental affect on the health of the borough (and all the additional costs that will eventually bring) for the sake of a short term financial gain.

Gateshead Metropolitan Bourough covers an area of 55 sq. miles.  Do the football pitches have to be placed on top of the running track?  What about for example land half a mile down the road and in conjunction with the football club that is already based there?

Seemingly, it was suggested that as the  space needed for the football pitches would only take up the first two lanes we could still have the track from lane 3 to 6 - Eh?

And all this from a council which has a past tradition of supporting athletics

Please save our track!

NB - If you are on Twitter - I have posted a tweet 'save our track'  at @AlanDent2 - please re-tweet if you agree.


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