Protest in bid to save sport partnership

Placard protest: South Holland youngsters make their point near the Houses of Parliament. Back (from left) - school sport coordinator Clare Ladley, Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell, George Farmer Technology College pupils and young ambassadors Joshua Ward and Jordan McCready, Gleed Girls' Technology College pupil and young ambassador Molly Rowden; front - Bourne Abbey Primary pupil Chloe Adley, St John's Primary School pupil Miah Farrell and William Gibson, a pupil at Easton Garford, near Stamford. Photo supplied.
Placard protest: South Holland youngsters make their point near the Houses of Parliament. Back (from left) - school sport coordinator Clare Ladley, Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell, George Farmer Technology College pupils and young ambassadors Joshua Ward and Jordan McCready, Gleed Girls' Technology College pupil and young ambassador Molly Rowden; front - Bourne Abbey Primary pupil Chloe Adley, St John's Primary School pupil Miah Farrell and William Gibson, a pupil at Easton Garford, near Stamford. Photo supplied.
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PUPILS from Spalding, Holbeach and Bourne joined hundreds of schoolchildren protesting outside Parliament on Tuesday over the Government’s decision to scrap school sport partnerships.

Olympic athletes Denise Lewis and Darren Campbell took part in the protest - and more than 70 top athletes have written to Prime Minister David Cameron saying the policy is “ill conceived”.

Young people delivered a petition to 10 Downing Street with more than 600,000 signatures asking the Government to think again about axing the £162m funding for partnerships nationwide.

The petition was circulated in South Holland and 5,000 were expected to sign, but the level of protest far exceeded expectations - and the final number of signatures was 9,072.

Lee Farrell, partnership development manager for the Spalding-based Lincolnshire South East School Sport Partnership, said youngsters carried placards urging ministers to ‘say no to school sports cuts’.

He said: “In their letter to Mr Cameron, athletes including Olympic heptathlon champion Denise Lewis and world diving champion Tom Daley say ending the partnerships risks the London Olympics 2012 ‘genuine legacy’ of encouraging partnership in sport.

“They urge the Government to reconsider the withdrawal of direct funding from March.

“Last month Mr Cameron described the partnerships as ‘a complete failure’.

“However at last week’s Prime Minister’s questions, he said he was ‘looking very carefully’ at the issue and said new proposals would be brought forward, although his aides and cabinet ministers denied this was a u-turn.”

Last year more than 15,000 South Holland children took part in competitive sports organised by the partnership.

Local headteachers have backed the campaign to keep the partnerships, including Spalding Gleed Boys’ School headteacher Geoff Cowley.