Running groups in Kirkcaldy have been dealt a hammer blow after a Scottish Government budget cut led to a loss of funding.
Sportscotland has announced a 20 per cent reduction in funding across Scottish sport, which has resulted in a £100,000 cut to the budget of Scottish Athletics, which began the JogScotland initiative with 400 groups now existing across Scotland, including Kirkcaldy’s Lang Toun Joggers.
Jim Taylor of the group said the cuts were “disappointing”, adding: “JogScotland exists to help the ordinary man or woman get fit without putting any pressure on them.
“I’m certain that in a few years down the line we will begin to see the detrimental effect this cut will have on the health of Scotland’s population.”
Ian Shield, JogScotland’s Fife group leader, said it was “the most successful Scottish health initiative ever”.
He said: “We began 15 years ago and it has been a fantastic success but the government still looks upon it as a pilot.
“It has had a huge impact on the health of thousands of people across Fife.”
“The government don’t seem to want to take it on to the next stage, and now quietly they’ve decided to stop our funding.”
Around two-thirds of those joining a free JogScotland group do so for the health benefits it brings and Ian said, “It’s a sad thing really, but JogScotland is not going to stop.”
Mark Munro, CEO of Scottish Athletics, called the decision “staggering”.
“We are all gutted,” he said, “but we are seeking solutions and we’re very hopeful that we will find one so that JogScotland can continue.
“We’ve lost a couple of staff members because of these cuts which is a blow, but my main priority is to ensure that the JogScotland members do not feel any impact on the ground.
“Ultimately that’s what’s important – that the people are out there jogging – so we will do our best to make sure that’s not affected.
“But when the government is so keen in promoting its health agenda, we do find it quite astonishing that an organisation which has received 6000 plus new members in the last year, loses its funding completely.”
The Scottish Government said the funding for JogScotland was never direct.
A spokesman said: “In 2016/17 Sportscotland provided Scottish Athletics with £65,000 to create a digital pilot system to demonstrate the impact which the JogScotland programme is having, and to use this to generate commercial income.
“An additional £50,000 was provided by Sportscotland to further support the transition of the JogScotland programme to a more sustainable model.”