AN appeal to use £50,000 of West Dunbartonshire Council’s reserves to fund an early years physical activity programme for another year has been knocked down by the Labour administration.

The initiative aims to inspire children to leave nursery with the confidence and interest to continue participating in physical activity in primary school and throughout the rest of their lives.

At a recent council meeting, Labour council leader Martin Rooney said he didn’t think there was a need to “throw money” at the scheme, provided by the West Dunbartonshire Leisure Trust, which delivers services on behalf of the local authority.

Instead, councillor Rooney asked for a report, which highlighted the needs of the trust that is responsible for three main indoor leisure centres in the area, to be brought before a relevant council committee.

It comes after a motion from SNP councillor Gordon Scanlan was presented to full council for the local authority to provide £50,000 from free reserves to run the programme for a further year while giving the trust time to find further funding so that services can continue.

The leisure trust’s early years physical activity programme has been operating for the last two years from Covid recovery funding which has since come to an end.

But councillor Rooney circulated an amendment which advised that the council note the motion and asked for a report to be brought before the relevant committee for consideration. 

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Councillor Rooney said: “The motion is well minded but the only thing I would say is that I don’t think we need to pick up the funding because within the early years there are 'champions' who can promote the physical activity within early learning services themselves.

“I think we should be focusing our energy on that and I think it would be useful to support a report coming back so that the council gets a chance to review what the service has done.

“I don’t think there is a need to just throw money at the programme which the motion proposes. We should use what is already there – the skills and experience and continue to deliver this.

“If there is a requirement for future training – we will deal with that when it comes up.”

Following the meeting, Councillor Scanlon said: "I am shocked and disappointed by this decision, this will have a detrimental impact on young children in our community.

“I spent more than a decade of my life delivering physical education to children and cannot overstate the lifelong importance of programmes such as this.

“I am especially disappointed at the Labour member in my ward, Provost McAllister, in his position of chair, who voted to end this vital provision for nursery school children.” 

The majority of councillors voted to approve councillor Rooney’s amendment.