Lib Dems reveal one playing field sold off every day last year

by Stephen Tall on March 12, 2009

Ahh, the wonders of government spin… here’s a BBC report from yesterday:

The Government is claiming greater success in its efforts to protect playing fields from developers. The latest figures show 97.5% of planning applications resulted in improved or protected sports provision. … “These figures are proof that the tough policies we put in place are working,” said sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe.

Let’s compare that claim with the news, revealed by the Lib Dems and picked up by the media today, that 360 playing fields were sold off in the last year, despite government safeguards which were meant to prevent this. Here’s what Lib Dem Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, Don Foster, had to say:

We were told that the days of the great playing field sell-off were over but these figures show that once again the Government is not keeping its word. Unless we put an end to this short-sighted profiteering, the time when every child had a favourite green field to play on will be a distant memory.

“Ministers may claim it’s not as bad as it was but they can’t escape the fact that vast numbers of playing fields are still being sold off.

“The Government’s refusal to tighten up the current rules has already cost us hundreds of playing fields. Ministers must immediately close the loopholes that are allowing so many of our playing fields to be sold.”