Government is pressed on its new definition of 'recreational cycling'16/01/2008 News
In early December Bikeforall.net carried the news that the Government wants to put more emphasis on sporting activities delivered by national governing bodies and was planning to redefine recreational cycling as no longer a sport.
This would impact on funding, starving initiatives such as British Cycling’s Everydaycycling. Grass roots cycling could be redefined as ‘recreational cycling’, instead of the whole of cycling being treated as one entity. No other sport has been segmented in this way.
The matter has now been raised in Parliament, and the Government appears to be back pedalling, claiming it has yet to solidify the redefinitions.
Bob Laxton, Labour MP for Derby North, asked the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport why recreational horse riding and swimming were included in the new definition of sport but that recreational cycling was excluded.
Gerry Sutcliffe, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Culture, Media & Sport said:
“The definition of sport for the local and national government measurement framework from April 2008 will be largely based on the definition of sport currently used for the Comprehensive Performance Assessment framework. This is set out in the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport’ letter to the Local Government Association of 21 December 2007.
“The Secretary of State has asked Sport England to develop a new strategy for how it will deliver a world class community sport infrastructure of clubs, coaches, volunteers and facilities.
“This new focus will deliver the provision of excellent sport opportunities from the grassroots up, sustaining and increasing participation and allowing everyone to develop their sporting talents at every level.
“Sport England’ tighter focus on sport will mean that some activities may fall outside Sport England’ remit and funding. Decisions have not yet been taken on what activities fall within or outside of Sport England’ remit.”
British Cycling is keeping up pressure on the Government to make sure recreational cycling isn’t redefined. British Cycling chief executive Peter King is to lobby James Purnell, the Secretary of State for Sport, Culture & Media next week.
British Cycling executives have already had emergency meetings with Sport England officials.
It seems likely the Government will back down on the redefinition of cycling, because cycling is Britain’s number one medal hope at the next two Olympic Games and because cycling – especially at the grass roots level – is a major force for good, getting cars off the streets and leading to whole population health gains.