Why is Norwich getting less active?

Kate ScotterPeople in Norwich are being urged to get active after latest figures reveal that fewer city folk are taking part in sport.Kate Scotter

People in Norwich are being urged to get active after latest figures reveal that fewer city folk are taking part in sport.

The number of people in Norwich taking part in 30 minutes of moderate intensity sport three times a week has decreased from 18.9pc in 2007-08 to 12.9pc in 2008-09.

A latest survey is currently being carried out but quarterly results have shown a slight increase - up to 14.1pc - but this is still short of the figures two years ago.

There have also been improvements in all of the other districts with south Norfolk named as the most active.

Laurie Hull, director of Active Norfolk, said: 'Given the level of investment is sport and physical activity over the past few years in Norfolk, and the generally positive trend on the county, these results are somewhat puzzling.

'We don't know why there has been a decrease in Norwich and will be taking steps to help improve the situation.'

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Last month, city council leader Steve Morphew spoke about his ambitions for a new swimming pool in the north of Norwich.

A City Hall spokesman said: 'We are aware of these figures and, while we expect a certain amount of fluctuation from year to year, we believe the recession may have hit low-income families who find it difficult to pay to participate in sport and leisure activities.

'The council runs a number of initiatives for Norwich residents, which are available for people on low incomes to encourage them to be more active. Our free Go 4less scheme offers up to 50pc discount at council facilitie, free tennis will be available at designated parks this summer and our new state-of-the-art skate park will offer an extra facility for the young people from June.'

Despite a city-wide decrease in sport participation, usage of Riverside Leisure Centre and Sportspark has increased.

Keith Nicholls, director of physical education and sport at the Sportspark, said it was down to the centre's accessibility.

He said: 'In most places, facilities are based around clubs or schools or people have to rely on health clubs such as Greens and Bannatyne's.

'The Sportspark is bigger than all of those and people can just walk in and swim or go to the gym. People want to do things and there's something on their doorstep. There's a huge demand but there are not enough places to do it.'

Last month, the Sportspark unveiled plans for a new Olympics-standard gymnastics centre and seven-a-side soccer pitches.

The figures, which are part of the Active People Survey, provide a baseline for Sport England to measure its target of getting a million people playing more sport as part of the government's drive to get two million more active by 2012.

What do you think of the sport facilities on offer in Norwich? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk