What better way to secure an Olympic legacy for Lewisham than to start charging community sports organisers to use Hilly Fields?
The South London Press reports that Glendale, the Council's park management contractors, have asked Lewisham Community Sports, who run paid-for courses for kids in Hilly Fields, to pay £50 per week for use of the park.
We understand that Glendale has to save money and that the user-pays principle will have a bigger role to play in local service provision going forward, but this move is an ill-conceived distortion of that principle. Lewisham Community Sports are not the end users of the park, the kids are, and the point of their activities is to help children get in to sport, to improve their fitness and combat obesity, which are supposed to be key priorities for both the Council and the country.
For a not-for-profit groups, such costs can be prohibitive. If we want kids in Lewisham to get in to sport, and the benefits we bring, we should ideally be subsidising them, not charging them.
The revenue this could raise is minimal, the social costs of increasing costs for community sport projects are potentially huge.