School pitches in Dundee have been lying empty for thousands of hours, the Tele can reveal.
New figures show that since 2015, grass and artificial turf pitches at 12 city schools have gone unused after school hours for almost two years of playing time every year.
And despite several initiatives to get Dundee kids out playing, community groups say they’re just not working.
St Paul’s Academy totalled the highest amount of days for empty pitches with its grass and astroturf facilities spending 48 and 74 days unused in 2016/17.
The figures, obtained through a freedom of information request, show no bookings were taken out of school hours at Craigie High, Craigiebarns Primary, St Ninian’s Primary, Blackness Primary and Rowantree Primary.
This equates to 60 days unused for each of the schools.
Pitches at Baldragon High, St John’s High and Fintry Primary all spent 57 days unused, while Harris Academy and Forthill Primary’s pitches lay empty for 56 and 54 days respectively.
Responding to the figures, Neil Ellis from the Boomerang Centre said kids who attend the youth club simply aren’t interested in taking part in sport activities.
He said: “We’ve seen a big drop in kids doing sport — they just don’t want to take part. They’d rather stay in and play computer games or have a shot at pool. I know some of the facilities across the city are quite expensive.
“I don’t really know what more we can do to encourage them, but we’ll still be pushing them to spend time outside, but even with the warm weather they don’t want to take part.”
West End Councillor Fraser Macpherson believes more needs to be done to promote the facilities available to Dundonians.
He said: “I’ve long been of the view that every effort should be made to promote the use of facilities. One initiative has been to let pupils use the school playground out of school hours as long as it’s properly managed. We also have to ensure facilities are affordable. These are public facilities and we want them to be made the best use of.
“If there’s any evidence that cost is a deterrent to people using these pitches then the council needs to take a good look at how they promote them and at what charge.”
A Dundee City Council spokesman said: “Members of the public are able to use school playgrounds and green spaces at many schools across the city under a council scheme to encourage families and children to be more active.
“This is designed to help them to use facilities in their neighbourhood during evenings and weekends.
“The scheme is now under way at 15 schools and the council is looking to expand this to more primaries and secondaries.
“All new build schools that are currently in the planning stages have community access to the school grounds and green space built into the design concept so that these grounds will be made available immediately on opening for community use.”
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “We are committed to helping Scotland become more physically active as it has been shown to improve both physical and mental health. In order to do so, we are creating world class facilities and encourage the use of all facilities available, including school estates.
“To provide more and better places to be active, along with sportscotland we have delivered 179 community sports hubs across all local authority areas, including seven in Dundee.”