We show below in full an excellently argued case by the UKIP parliamentary candidate for Battersea, Christopher Howe, about the proposed closure of the Battersea Sports Centre in Hope Street seen in the context of the Government’s cigarette plain packaging initiative, espoused by our sitting MP.
“The damaging consequences of smoking cannot be denied. However, the time and expense spent on discussing the packaging of cigarettes would be better used in debating the causes that make people smoke in the first place. Plain packaging will not stop someone smoking or taking drugs. Drugs, as we have seen on television, are sold in plain white tissue. There is no seductive marketing here, so selling cigarettes in plain packaging will not reduce cigarette sales, but may even encourage it.
In most cases adults should take responsibility for their own actions, and not blame the tobacco companies or tobacco itself for encouraging them to smoke. More resources should be put into preventing smoking among children and teenagers. This could be done more effectively by educating them on the consequences of smoking.
With regards to smoking there are some serious social issues that put pressure on people to smoke to find a way to relax, such as unemployment and the lack of prospects, undertraining and a lack of qualifications, poor or no housing, including the abominable bedroom tax, and stressful work schedules. The costs alone to the NHS of treating and relieving the effects of smoking could be saved by spending the money on promoting sporting activities and healthy pursuits. This would help relieve the stress that leads to smoking, and encourage healthy social interaction in a stable community environment.
One of the ways to promote health is to have more sport facilities for school children and adults, and the wider community at large.
At present, the Conservative-led council in Battersea is proposing to close a long established and much used Sports Centre (Hope Street, off York Road). The sports centre is used by about eight schools. As there are not, generally, many local sports centres for the public, people travel from as far away as Croydon to use the Battersea Sports Centre.
Isn’t it contradictory, and somewhat hypocritical, of the government to wish to promote good health practices yet support property developers at the expense of long established and well-used community facilities?
It is proposed by Wandsworth Council that the Battersea Sports Centre should close to make way for affordable housing, whatever that means. Such contentious and local issues should be decided by local residents by local referendum, and not by council servants. It is the citizens who have built up a sports centre community, over generations in many cases, and developed it organically by the dedication and sacrifice of the staff and local people, and visitors. The speculative developers, with their eye on the main chance, try to move in and this must be resisted. The growing support of UKIP in Battersea and Wandsworth will strain every sinew to put a stop to the closure of Battersea Sports Centre, and similar people-focused centres. It’s the local people who are the masters of their communities, not the council stewards, and it’s time to remind the policymakers in Westminster of this fact. It’s no wonder that having to deal with poorly judged and short sighted government policies that people turn to smoking, and other vices. No amount of plain packaging will disguise that.”