I was very pleased to welcome Chris Bryant, our Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport to St Augustine's Catholic High School last week.
During the question and answer session with pupils Chris emphasised the importance of the election for young people and said that "There's a massive decision that this country has got to make and Redditch is one of the seats that will make it because it is one of the tightest battles between Labour and Conservative."
He went on to say that the politics of the Labour Party came from the belief that everyone is born equal and so we should all have an equal chance in life. Adding that “Economic recovery is only happening in London and the South East, you need to take the whole of the country with you."
He told the students, in years nine and 12, that taking part in a choir or in a school play teaches team-work, time-keeping and to gain self-confidence.
The group discussed a number of issues including that of school buildings being available to the community as sports facilities.
The reality is that this Tory led coalition Government decided in 2010 to cease funding for, and effectively dismantle, the infrastructure responsible for supporting school sport in this country. Through ending support for School Sport Partnerships, they stripped away the very bodies that have transformed school sport.
In 2010 Arts Council England saw its budget cut by 29.6% and it has been cut every year since. In addition, due to cuts to Local Council Budgets, there have been severe cuts in youth services provided by councils, there have been large cuts to Leisure Centres and local parks, and libraries and museums have closed.
In my judgement it essential that any government should understand the importance of these facilities to the wellbeing of the community and the Labour Party believes that our cultural heritage defines us as a nation. The arts allow us to celebrate our common humanity, sport brings us together in an expression of our national and local pride and our media’s free flow of information and different points of view is crucial for open debate and countering concentrations of unaccountable power.
• We will put the arts and culture back at the heart of our government and we will guarantee a universal entitlement to a creative education so that every young person has access to cultural activity and the arts in schools and after-school clubs.
• We will require any institution that receives arts funding to open up their doors to young people, and we will work with public bodies to rebalance arts funding across the country.
• We reaffirm our commitment to universal free admission to ensure that our great works of art and national heritage can be enjoyed in all parts of the country.
• We will open sports up to young people and fans and we will ensure every child participates in a minimum of two hours of organised sport every week at school.
• We will ensure the Premier League delivers on its promise to invest five per cent of its television rights income into the grassroots and we will provide the means for football supporters to be a genuine part of their clubs.
Sammy Hope said: "The session was very informative and it has backed up my reasons to vote Labour in May."