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Auckland Council and the Government must prioritise Auckland’s sporting infrastructure to ensure that community sport is not put at risk, National’s Sport and Recreation Spokesperson Nikki Kaye and Local Government (Auckland) Spokesperson Denise Lee say.

“Auckland Council’s draft long-term plan for youth sport and recreation infrastructure is inadequate. The current plan contains a capital shortfall of at least $500 million over the next ten years and does not sufficiently satisfy local demand,” Ms Kaye says.

“There are between 90 and 150 sports fields and courts needed in Auckland right now. These sports facilities are vital to the survival of organisations that provide sport and recreational opportunities and employ more than 25,000 Aucklanders.

“This deficiency is exacerbated by the Government moving to scrap Public Private Partnerships (PPPs). PPPs are an innovative way to spend taxpayer money efficiently, and are crucial to ensuring sport and recreation remains accessible for all Aucklanders.

“Scrapping PPPs will hold Auckland and other parts of New Zealand back in terms of sporting infrastructure. Even if the Government doesn’t support PPPs then it could consider partnerships that harness central, local and community funding.

“With intensification there will be a growing need to utilise space better. With over $4.85 billion allocated to school infrastructure by the last Government, a large amount of which was destined for Auckland, there are huge opportunities for greater partnerships.”

Ms Lee says National will be holding a series of meetings over the next six months with the community and sporting organisations to help progress projects across Auckland to ensure more young people and their families have access to sport and recreation facilities.

“We know there are councillors and local board representatives who feel strongly about this so we plan to work closely with them.

“While we are focusing on Auckland, we will also be working with local MPs to identify other areas of New Zealand where projects can be progressed.

“The economic ramifications of poor sporting infrastructure are huge, with the sector contributing at least $1.9 billion to Auckland’s economy each year.

“Physical inactivity cost New Zealand’s health care system over $200 million in 2013 and some research indicates that around 20 per cent of young Auckland children are overweight.

“The Education Minister needs to continue the Auckland Education Growth Plan which was being worked on by the previous Government and was due to be considered by Cabinet last November. It is important to look at the work done so far to factor in potential opportunities around sport and recreational infrastructure.

“We must prioritise sport and recreation in our communities and Auckland Council and the Government must front up with more funding to support Auckland’s sporting infrastructure.”

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