Corby MP calls for Parliamentary Debate about Squash Accessibility and Benefits
By JAMES ROBERTS – Squash Mad Reporter
Last Thursday in the House of Commons, Tom Pursglove, MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire, successfully raised the issues of the lack of squash courts in Corby and the benefits of squash. Fresh from attending a World Squash Day event at Uppingham as part of the Corby Squash Campaign, the MP put a question to Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom MP.
The question read as follows: “The weekend before last I attended a brilliantly organised World Squash Day event organised by my constituent James Roberts, but frustratingly we don’t have any squash courts in Corby at the moment. May we have a debate to discuss the benefits of squash, but also the pressing need for squash courts in Corby?”
In her reply, Andrea Leadsom, who is a fellow Northamptonshire MP (South Northamptonshire), seemed to be very well informed about the squash scene in her constituency, taking the opportunity to mention the excellent progress made by Brackley Squash Club over recent years, which was named England Squash Venue of the Year for 2016/17 in its Polar Squash Workforce Awards. She also suggested that Corby players should go over to Brackley to play and train, before then recommending that Tom Pursglove applies for an ‘Adjournment Debate’ in the near future to further discuss the issues.
Her full reply was as follows: “I invite my hon. friend’s constituents to come and play squash in Brackley, just down the road in my constituency, where we are doing rather well in the leagues. His constituents might like to come and get some training in Brackley. But he is exactly right. We want more sport in this country – he is a keen sportsman himself – and we should as members promote more sporting activities in our constituencies. I encourage him to apply for an adjournment debate to see what more can be done.
Tom Pursglove recently attended the World Squash Day event organised by me as a Corby based squash enthusiast and instigator of the Corby Squash Campaign. Having recently moved back to the area after an absence of 25 years, I was amazed and horrified to learn that there are now no squash courts at all in the town since the demolition of the last courts as part of the old Corby Pool leisure centre, this despite a brand new Olympic sized pool having been rebuilt in the town. By my reckoning, this makes Corby, with a population of over 65,000 and ambitions to grow towards 100,000, the largest town in the UK with no squash courts. I therefore have to travel over 10 miles to the nearest squash club to Corby, in Market Harborough just over the border in Leicestershire, plus I also do a spot of coaching in Uppingham, Rutland.
Tom was impressed watching the juniors enjoying the World Squash Day event held at Uppingham and promised to lend his full support to the Corby Squash Campaign, including raising the issue in the House. True to his word, he has now done this and we are delighted that his question has elicited such a positive response from Andrea Leadsom, including her being aware of the hive of squash activity that now exists at Brackley in her South Northamptonshire constituency. Indeed, I have since been in touch with the good folk at Brackley and we have decided to take up her suggestion, so I am currently in the process of assembling a team of Corby players to attend a tournament there with the Brackley players. Tom Pursglove and Andrea Leadsom will of course both be invited to come and watch the action!
Looking at the bigger picture of the provision of squash facilities generally up and down the country, as well as the well-documented health and well-being benefits of squash, we at Squash Mad are now asking you, the squash community to seize the opportunity of this forthcoming parliamentary debate. Rather than Tom Pursglove using this debate solely to represent the ‘pressing need’ as he called it of his constituents to hopefully see new squash facilities developed in Corby, it would be great if this debate could widen out to become about the positive role a sport like squash is already playing in society, and therefore how proper investment in its future across the country could yield enormous benefits.
We therefore call upon squash players from all parts of the UK to get in touch with their local MP to advise them of this forthcoming parliamentary debate about squash and to make them aware of their particular situation in terms of squash provision and local activity. Whether you are concerned about access to facilities, as is the case in Corby, or whether there are beacons of positive success in your area you could highlight, please make sure your MP is made aware of the huge health and well-being benefits of squash, plus where there is success, how this has positively impacted upon the community. Above all else, please encourage them to support Tom Pursglove MP and get involved with any forthcoming parliamentary debate about squash, so that we can create positive political momentum towards gaining proper investment in its future.
We will soon be starting a social media campaign to support Tom Pursglove’s call for a parliamentary debate about squash and its many benefits. This will be achieved via the Facebook and Twitter accounts for Squash Mad, Corby Squash and my own personal accounts. Please join in this campaign to create a social media storm by sharing, retweeting and adding your own views and experiences. We will be using the hashtags #SquashDebate and #SquashBenefits
Full details of these social media accounts are as follows:
Twitter: @jimbob1965 https://twitter.com/jimbob1965
Pictures by: James Roberts (House of Commons pictures are screen shots from Parliamentlive.tv)