Jo has written to East Dunbartonshire Council to urge it to ensure Allander Leisure is kept open until a replacement has been built.
Responding to the strong concerns of local residents over proposals which would potentially leave Milngavie and Bearsden without a local sports centre for 18 months, Jo has written a letter to the Chief Executive of East Dunbartonshire Council, Gerry Cornes. In the letter she expresses condemnation of plans to close of Allander Leisure Centre before its replacement opens.
Jo argues that such a long period without a local sports facility would be damaging to the health and wellbeing of the local community. She refers to local sports clubs, such as Milngavie & Bearsden Amateur Swimming Club, who have contacted her to say that if the plans go ahead they may be forced to disband due to the lack of alternative facilities. Jo also expresses concern that the £10 million offered by developers to replace the sports centre will be insufficient to maintain the level of services that residents currently enjoy.
Commenting, Jo said:
“The local reaction to the proposals by CALA Management and Stewart Milne Holdings has been almost unanimous opposition, and the issue of Allander Leisure is one that people feel particularly strongly about. I welcome the suggestion that a brand new sports centre with state-of-the-art facilities would be a great asset to the community, but people cannot be expected to go 18 months without local sports facilities. I have urged the Council to use all its available powers to ensure that Allander is not closed until alternative facilities are in place.”
The text of Jo’s letter to East Dunbartonshire Council appears below:
East Dunbartonshire Council
Tom Johnston House
30th April 2009
Dear Mr. Cornes
As you will know, many residents of Milngavie and Bearsden are extremely concerned about the Scottish Government Reporter’s decision to approve proposals by CALA Management and Stewart Milne Holdings for the Lower Kilmardinny Project.
Of particular concern are the plans to replace Allander Leisure. While a new state-of-the-art sports centre would be of great benefit to the community, the developers indicated when the proposals were put forward that it would be around 18 months from the time Allander Leisure is demolished until the new sports centre would be completed. It would be completely unacceptable for local people to be without a local sports facility for such a long period of time. At a time when Government and local authorities are trying to encourage people to become more active and get more exercise, closing the only sports centre in the area would be counter-productive, and potentially very damaging to health and wellbeing. To give one example, Milngavie & Bearsden Amateur Swimming Club contacted me when the proposals were put forward to say that if the plans go ahead, the club may have to be abandoned due to the lack of alternative facilities. I’m sure you will agree that it would be a great shame if local people, and especially young people, were to stop enjoying regular exercise and sporting activities due to the lack of a local leisure centre.
For this reason I would urge you to use all the powers available to the Council to ensure that Allander Leisure is not closed before the new sports centre opens. Sportscotland have also called for this condition to be put in place, and the developers have indicated that it would be possible to keep the existing sports centre open while the new one is built.
I appreciate that the associated Health and Safety measures may increase the cost of the project, which brings me to the second concern regarding the cost of a new facility. The developers’ contribution of £10 million may not cover the full cost of a new sports centre. Sportscotland have previously indicated that they would contribute to an upgrade of the existing centre, however I am not aware of any offer to offer contribute to the building of a new one. My constituents are concerned that a lack of funding may result in a lower quality of facilities than they presently enjoy. I would appreciate it if you would give assurances that this will not be the case, and supply information about what specification of leisure centre has been considered, the estimated cost, and what plans EDC has put in place regarding funding of this project
Thanks you for your assistance in this matter, and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Jo Swinson MP