02 April 2015

S4M-12203 Greenock Morton Community Trust

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Elaine Smith): The next item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S4M-12203, in the name of Stuart McMillan, on congratulating Greenock Morton Community Trust. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament congratulates Greenock Morton Community Trust (GMCT) on receiving £106,029 from the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund; understands that the group will use the grant to promote lower carbon lifestyle choices in Inverclyde, including a sports kit and footwear recycling initiative; notes GMCT’s role in educating school children and providing them with equipment to participate in sport; considers that football clubs across Scotland have an important role in their local communities, and praises all involved at GMCT and Greenock Morton Football Club for the growing community work that they do in Inverclyde.

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Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

I thank Stuart McMillan for the opportunity, as his motion says, to consider “football clubs across Scotland”. Of course, in the north-east we are somewhat distant from the activities of Greenock Morton. It has been interesting and valuable to hear about what it is doing, but it is worth saying that, with four senior clubs in my constituency—in Buckie, Banff, Fraserburgh and Peterhead—I must be absolutely neutral in anything that I say about support for football clubs.

I have a second reason for not being too particularly addicted to any club. In the 1920s, my father played for Ross County, and I always say to people that that accounts for my knowing very little about football. Of course, Ross County has made substantial progress since my father stopped playing for them. He also had a trial for Queen’s Park, but that got him absolutely nowhere.

Football, like any other participative sport, delivers a great deal to those who play it, and much enjoyment to those who support it. It provides health benefits, musculoskeletal flexibility through taking good-quality exercise and is likely, providing one does not head the ball too often, to lead to a longer life.

At the core of the motion before us is an award of money from the Scottish Government’s climate challenge fund. It is an interesting fund, which has doled out quite a lot of money over a long period of time.

One of the central things about awards from that fund to communities such as the Greenock Morton Community Trust is that there must be genuine innovation in the proposal that is submitted to the fund. In other words, if applicants are just repeating something that has been done, they will not get the money. That is where the Greenock Morton Community Trust has really ticked the right boxes; it is doing some things that have not been done elsewhere and it is taking forward ideas that may or may not work to the extent that the bid suggests.

When I was a minister, I found myself appearing before a parliamentary committee to be questioned about the activities of the climate challenge fund, and I was asked, “But, minister, how do you know all these projects are going to work?” I somewhat confused the committee by replying, “I know that they won’t all work.” Even if an award is made and does not work, we will learn something from that. I welcome what the Greenock Morton Community Trust is doing, and it looks as if the elements of its activity of which I have been made aware have every chance of being successful.

I have community trusts in my constituency, in particular the Princess Royal Sports and Community Trust, where Alan Still exhibits significant leadership, bringing people into Deveronvale’s facility to support activity, and engaging with four-figure numbers of people across our communities through four full-time coaches. Along the coast a little bit, near Portsoy, the Boyndie Trust runs a cafe and community bus service. Trusts come in all shapes and sizes and provide employment for many people. There is also the Banffshire educational trust, which is administered by Moray Council. A lot is going on in my constituency that will be replicated by community trusts elsewhere.

I congratulate Greenock on the success of its bid and I wish it well in delivering what it has promised to tackle. I hope that if Greenock is playing any of my teams it will have great success in doing so, although that hope of success is moderated by belief that it would be much better if my teams won.


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