A PLAN to improve sports provision and to get more people active has been championed by councillors and teachers.

The council’s cabinet members have formally approved the adoption of the Swindon Playing Pitch Strategy, a scheme intended to improve health and wellbeing by encouraging people to get active and participate in sport.

The SPPS would replace the last strategy produced in 2007 and would cover the period to 2021. It will provide a “strategic framework” for the provision and management of outdoor sports and is capable of supporting funding applications.

Graham Taylor, the principal of New College, gave the programme his full support following the recent announcement that work is to start on the school’s new £800,000 all-weather sports pitch, something the council is keen to see more of.

Graham said: “I think this will be a very good way of encouraging schools to open up their facilities to the community when they are not being used by pupils.

“There are some very positive things in the strategy and they fit into what we are doing here at New College, such as enhancing our facilities and encouraging more people to use them to play sport.”

Football will be the core sport played on New College’s pitch, and community groups of all ages and abilities will be invited to use the space for training and matches, including walking football teams. The pitch will even have a spectators area for friends, family and fans to watch.

“We think providing this type of facility is very important and we hope it can be extended,” Graham said.

The SPPS focuses on football, rugby union, cricket and hockey pitches and also provides a brief assessment of the needs of other, less played sports in the borough such as rugby league, American football and softball.

Coun Toby Elliott, cabinet member for strategic planning and sustainability, spoke passionately about the strategy.

He said: “We want more young people playing sport, but not just at a young age – we want it to carry on into adult life. As as council, there is only so much we can do and it’s not just down to SBC to provide more sports provision, but where we can act, we will.”

A SPPS Steering Group, will also be formed to oversee implementation of the strategy and to monitor it as it progresses.