Call for spotlight on sport in Bay's schools

Torbay Weekly

Sport and physical activity in Torbay's schools is being put under the microscope.

The issue was raised at a virtual meeting of Sport Torbay which was attended by an array of clubs, councillors, including leader Steve Darling, his deputy Darren Cowell and sports portfolio holder Mike Morey, and council officers.

Robert Excell had raised the school sports issue earlier and Cllr Cowell voiced a general concern that due to the restricted curriculum, sport may be being being pushed to the back of priorities.

Cllr Morey introduced Cordelia Law, the councillor in charge of all things children, and she expressed a need for children to remain active during this time of catch up lessons. But she was also aware of the time restraints on schools.

Nicci Tucker mentioned that clubs were concerned about the impact of after-school and holiday catch up lessons on children attending clubs.

She said  many sports clubs are concerned that after school extra lessons and/or holiday clubs/lessons, would see their numbers drop.

There are only so many hours available to clubs during term time and extending the school day would seriously impact on numbers attending the after--school  provision, she added.

Cllr Law said the council was awaiting details of the catch up funding.

It was felt an audit of sport and physical activity in schools may be useful. After a suggestion from chairman Jim Parker it was agreed that a small working group be set up and, working with the council and other partners, the idea be progressed.

Cllr Cowell reported a date for the opening of Upton Park after its big refurbishment project as part of the £22million Town Deal regeneration funding for Torquay. He said the issue over changing rooms still needed to be addressed. But the meeting heard there is some funding possible from Basketball to help with the courts at the site. The Lawn Tennis Association is also reportedly interested in investing in facilities in the Bay.

Simon Niles said there were rumours of a climbing wall attraction and a possible skate park on disused tennis courts at  the back of the English Riviera Conference Centre which is now being run by Parkwood Leisure.

Mr Excell reminded members of the facilities at the Foyer in Torquay that are available to hire and that may suitable for many sport/community groups. He said the community must use it or run the risk of possibly losing it. Cllr Darling suggested the community groups could work together.
Paignton Sailing Club's Nick Ripley reported staging a successful national sailing event. He also raised concerns over an ancient by-law which prevents the under-18s from driving speed boats in Paignton harbour which is having a huge impact on training courses with insurance cover. Cllr Darling offered to take up the matter.

The meeting heard of plans for a mini-sports summit and special 'Bouncing Back to Sport' weekend of sport being hosted by Torquay Tennis Club in July.

At the earlier annual meeting, Jim Parker was re-elected chairman. In his annual report he said the past year had been dominated by the pandemic with clubs closed but a great community spirit being kept alive.

He said the Resetting Sport and Torbay on the Move initiatives were progressing and he remarked on a  new relationship with the council, and a 'can do' attitude which also included £90,000 funding over the next three years for local sport as well as investment in capital projects.

Parker said the plan was to broaden the perception of sport which was linked to mental health/ physical health and tackling social issues.

He thanked members, officers, councillors and officers and urged clubs to sign up for Sport Torbay by going to its Facebook page ( and giving their details.