SportScotland’s claim that they would have considered a project to refurbish Meadowbank Stadium has today led to accusations that councillors misled the public over the decision to close the popular Edinburgh sports centre.
Council leader Ewan Aitken last month told campaigners that SportScotland wouldn’t fund a refurbishment of the ground but they have since contradicted him by saying they would have considered it.
“One of the things they (SportScotland) made clear was that they were looking for new things,” Aitken told campaigners. “They weren’t going to allow us to refurbish things.”
Aitken wasn’t alone in this view. His colleague Ian Perry, who represents the Meadowbank ward, wrote to a campaigner in early February. He said: “Unfortunately the site at Meadowbank does not meet the specifications that are laid down by the Scottish Executive and SportScotland who are providing most of the finance. If we do not meet their specifications we will not receive the grant.”
Addressing last month’s Save Meadowbank public meeting, former council leader Donald Anderson said: “The advice that we’ve had from our officials is that a refurbished Meadowbank Stadium couldn’t meet SportScotland guidelines in terms of quality of provision it needs in order to attract their funding.”
These explanations have been questioned by campaigners following an open letter from Stewart Harris, SportScotland’s Chief Executive, who said: “We look equally favourably on new or refurbished projects.
“Whilst SportScotland provides specification guidelines for different types of facilities to all applicants, at no time did we indicate that the Meadowbank site was too small to be considered for redevelopment. The council however has stated it requires a larger footprint to update and improve the facilities currently available and to maintain them on one site.”
Save Meadowbank spokesperson Paula Ferguson expressed concern at the contradictory statements. “Several councillors have told us they were forced into the decision by SportScotland who have now denied it. Who should we believe?
“This whole process has been anything but transparent. We need a full explanation of what decisions were made, when, by whom and under what conditions.”