London 2012 Olympics vision to 'Inspiring a Generation' breathes fresh courage into a South Birmingham Community's attempt to save their local playing fields. Community Groups surrounding the Holders Lane & Pebble Mill Playing Fields have rallied together to try to protect the much loved Open Space from the threat of hostile disposal by the Local Authority. Sports groups represented by Kingsbridge Community Sports have been campaigning for nearly 5 years to see the facilities brought back into proper use, but earlier this year local residents groups joined in the debate following leaked plans for the Council to dispose of the land to University College Birmingham on a long-term lease. Residents and sports groups alike have called for Community to decide what happens to the site, and and await reassurance that the land will not become part of a University Campus.
Birmingham City Council have promised to reconsider the situation, but even before the Olympic Flame is extinguished, news has reached campaign groups in Birmingham that further Playing Fields are to be sold off across the UK. So the Communities in South Birmingham are not alone in battling to ensure that the Olympic Legacy becomes a reality for our nation and spaces for sport & recreation are preserved for the benefit of local communities for current & future generations.
National Campaign Group '38 Degrees' are collecting information on their website about other playing fields across the UK; which have either already been sold, or are currently thought to be under threat. 38 Degrees hope to work with groups like Kingsbridge and the residents groups in South Birmingham to put pressure on the Government to prevent further playing fields being removed from public ownership & use.
Meanwhile the Queen's own charity 'Fields in Trust' remain approximately 600 sites short of their target of protecting 2,012 playing fields by the end of the year. Sites signed up to the Challenge are protected forever, ensuring local communities will have free and easy access to somewhere to realise their sporting talents and get active. In addition, Fields in Trust can leverage in 'significant funding' believed to be up to £250,000 per site. The Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge will create a living grassroots legacy from the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Fields in Trust have written in support of Kingsbridge, but are unable to protect the site unless Birmingham City Council agrees to support the proposal.
Will the 'flame of hope' continue to burn for these groups, and will Birmingham City Council get in the 'Olympic spirit' and secure the future of community sport and recreation in South Birmingham for generations to come, or will the temptation to 'sell the family silver' become too strong to resist for Local Authorities? Do you share a passion for preserving Public Open Space? -Watch this Space!
Kingsbridge Project is a community based consortium, aiming to develop a vibrant and exciting new venue in South Birmingham. Our aim is to enhance the provision of sport and recreation activities for the benefit of a wide variety of local user groups, in an area where facilities are currently sorely lacking.
For more information visit http://www.kingsbridge-project.org/