MINISTERS have called for the removal of ‘no ball games’ signs from public spaces to help get Scots fit.

Public health and sports minister Joe FitzPatrick included the idea - for which the Tories swiftly claimed credit - in the SNP government’s new Active Scotland Delivery Plan.

The plan, which also advocates more cycle and walking networks and helping children play outside safely, aims to cut physical inactivity in adults and teenagers by 15 per cent by 2030.

This equates to around 250,000 people becoming more active through sports, walking, cycling and informal physical activity such as gardening.

Other steps include more community sports hubs in the most deprived areas, more sport for pupils before and after school, doubling the budget for cycle and walking infrastructure to £80m a year, and encouraging more women and girls to participate in physical activity.

The government also recommends getting rid of the warning notice beloved of park-keepers and council jobsworths down the ages.

“We will promote a supportive approach to physical activity, play and sport in public spaces, and encourage removal of signs which discourage this, e.g. ‘no ball games’ signs,” it said.

Only eight per cent of Scots play football at least once a month.

Launching the plan at an Edinburgh school that is also a community sports hub, Mr Fitzpatrick said: “Being physically active is one of the best things we can do for our physical and mental health. It can also transform communities by helping people connect and come together in shared activities.

“Cutting the level of physical inactivity by 15 per cent by 2030 means addressing all of the factors involved. This includes relatively large action such as investing in our active travel infrastructure so people can easily walk and cycle, and supporting initiatives such as Health Walks for those who need help to become active, to small acts such as encouraging removal of ‘No Ball Games’ signs.”

Professor Fiona Bull from the World Health Organisation said: "Regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your health. It can contribute to a healthier and more sustainable future for our children.”

Tory MSP Brian Whittle said: “I’m glad the Scottish Government has adopted my idea of removing ‘no ball games’ signs. That will help create more open spaces, and just allow children to play again without fear of being told otherwise by authorities.

“But this in itself will not be enough. The SNP is far too piecemeal in its approach – ideas on physical activity need to be done in tandem with diet and education.”

LibDem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said a “national falls strategy” was also needed, to persuade the elderly that walking activities would be safe.

He said: “Fear of falling vastly reduces the orbit of your social universe and for many older people having no confidence in the safety of pavements and footpaths can lead to the double whammy of isolation and inactivity.”

Green MSP Alison Johnstone said an Active Nation Commissioner was needed to help fix “decades of underinvestment in our walking and cycling routes”.

She said: “We need urgent, stronger action if we really want to get people active, and address health conditions like obesity and diabetes.

“We clearly need better opportunities for young people to take part in sport in school, all too often pupils have a very limited choice of sports and activities.”