Work will start this summer on creating outdoor games areas to encourage thousands of children in Kirklees to enjoy sports instead of being glued to the TV or computer screen.

Kirklees Council is to provide eight multi-courts in parks and recreation grounds across the district at a cost of £480,000 with the help of a £432,000 National Lottery grant approved by the English Sports Council earlier this year.

The Council is contributing £24,000 from its National Lottery Partner-ship Fund and £24,000 from the leisure and recreation services budget to up make the funding. The facilities will be free and floodlit.

The project is also designed to encourage youngsters to keep fit and healthy to prevent major illnesses such as heart disease in later years and at the same time deter them from hanging about the streets and committing crime out of boredom.

Council leisure chiefs say the multi-courts can be used for five-a-side soccer, basketball, netball, volleyball and tennis. They are expected to be completed by next spring and will mean extra facilities for schoolchildren, young people, sports clubs and voluntary organisations.

The multi-courts will be provided at Firth Park, Heckmondwike, Holroyd and Overthorpe Parks at Ravensthorpe near Mirfield, Crow Nest and Earlsheaton parks in Dewsbury and Huddersfield's Far-town complex, Ravensknowle, Fern-side and Overthorpe parks.

Richard Brooker, head of leisure and recreation services, said: "The multi-courts are part of our strategy to bring the district's parks up to date and will be available for use by sports clubs and community groups as well as children.

"More outdoor sports facilities was one of the things young people asked for in our major survey last year to find out what services young people wanted provided by the Council.''

The news comes after the Council provided £3,500 last year to turn the old tennis courts in Firth Park into a skateboarding and rollerblading rink and the adjoining pavilion into a meeting place.

A basketball ring, tarred area and drainage improvements at a cost of £3,500 for the playing field at Lynfield recreation ground in High-town, Liversedge, were also approved by councillors.

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