Concern at plan to halt sport funding

Sport Otago has expressed concern at plans by the Dunedin City Council to cut the organisation's $50,000 annual funding completely in two years.

Sport Otago chief executive John Brimble yesterday told the council's annual plan hearings committee he had been informed council funding would be reduced by half, to $25,000, in 2009-10, and cut completely in 2010-11.

The cuts would result in a "severe curtailment" of some Sport Otago programmes in Dunedin, including the Active Families initiative aimed at helping children at risk of health complications associated with weight problems, Mr Brimble warned.

The cuts would also potentially result in a loss of key staff at a time of increasing demand for Sport Otago services, and would mean the council was the only local authority in Otago not supporting physical activity through Sport Otago, he said.

"We believe this to be a backward step," Mr Brimble said.

He called on the council to reconsider the move by maintaining funding at $50,000 for the next financial year, to allow Sport Otago time to explore possible alternative funding streams.

He acknowledged Sport Otago's funding from the council was tied to an annual review, and that Sparc (Sport and Recreation New Zealand) also contributed funds towards Sport Otago's programmes.

However, the Sparc funding was on the basis of support from other agencies, including the council, Mr Brimble said.

Mr Brimble applauded the council's continuing support for other programmes and initiatives, such as the "skills to swim" programme, as well as its continued investment in playing fields and other sport and recreation facilities.



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