News Release: Over half of Meadowbank’s facilities will go

5-aside pitches at meadowbank Campaigners have highlighted the sheer scale of facilities that will be lost if Edinburgh Council continues with its plan to bulldoze Meadowbank Stadium and replace it with a far smaller sports centre.

Over half the current facilities would go. Sports halls would reduce from 19 to 7. Meeting rooms would fall from 5 to 2. The cycling velodrome would not be replaced. Even the hugely popular outdoor football pitches are facing the axe.

We already knew cycling would be decimated by the loss of the velodrome and serious athletes would have to do without throws, warm-up and storage areas,” said Save Meadowbank spokesman Kevin Connor. “But this shows ordinary user will be affected even more.

“Council officials propose to do without outdoor five-a-side pitches, a gymnastic hall and many of the indoor halls. Some of these may be included in a second stage but then only if more money becomes available in the future.

“Existing facilities are severely over-subscribed. It can be very difficult to make a booking due to the great demand. To propose removing most of the facilities is patently absurd, especially at a time when politicians are encouraging us to make even more use of leisure facilities.”

Outdoor sports facilities at MeadowbankComparison of existing and planned outdoor facilities.

Presently: 8

  • athletic track
  • football pitch
  • velodrome
  • throwing area
  • basketball court
  • astroturf football pitches (x3)

Planned: 2

  • athletic track
  • rugby pitch

A full comparison of existing and planned facilities is given below.

Main facilities within Meadowbank Stadium:

  • Stadium (6500 seats) with full athletic facilities plus football pitch
  • Concourse / indoor athletic training area
  • Athletic warm-up / training area
  • Gymnastic training facility
  • Three five-a-side synthetic pitches / One synthetic hockey pitch
  • Velodrome (cycling)
  • Car Park
  • Plant areas
  • Foyer and reception
  • Administration offices
  • Kitchen area
  • Sports medicine clinic
  • First aid room
  • Changing facilities
  • Male and female toilets

Sports halls (19)

  • Range Halls (x3) formerly used for shooting but now multi-purpose
  • Main Halls (x3)
  • Lesser Halls (x4), including Pulse Fitness Room
  • Squash Courts (x6)
  • Climbing Wall
  • Weight training
  • Athletic club / circuit training

Rooms (5)

  • Lounges (x3), including former cafeteria
  • General Purpose Room
  • Internet Cafe (“The House”)

Facilities proposed in recommendation accepted last month by Councillors (http://cpol.edinburgh.gov.uk/getdoc_ext.asp?DocId=109262):

  • Stadium (5000 seats) with rugby pitch
  • Changing facilities
  • Male and female toilets
  • Car Park

Sports halls (7)

  • Sports Courts (x4)
  • Martial Arts
  • Fitness Studio
  • Soft Play

Rooms (2)

  • Function room
  • Youth Room
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News Release: Meadowbank site has historic significance

Meadowbank should be retained in its entirety for sports use because of the historic significance of the site, according to a former leader of Lothian Regional Council.

Phyllis Herriot served fifteen years in Council Chambers, first for the City Council and then for Lothian Region. She started in 1967, just before Edinburgh first hosted the Commonwealth Games.

“It cost £2.3 million to build Meadowbank,” Phyllis recalled. “A few of us had other priorities but people persuaded me we should go ahead because it would be money well spent.

I was particularly interested in the Monk’s Well that used to be there. It was supposed to bring health to those who used it. Although the well was built over by the railway, a Court Interdict was granted to allow pilgrims to access it. I worked with Councillor Willie Lyle, Minister Kenneth McKenzie and Father John Fusco to get a commemorative plaque on the site, which is still there to this day.

“I was persuaded that an athletics stadium would fit in with the health aims of the Monk’s Well. It was excellent and we were all very proud of the site. Come the 1986 Games it cost only £1 million to refurbish the stadium.

“Nobody blinks an eye at the billions being spent on the Olympic Games in London or the £500 million being spent on trams for Edinburgh. We only need a fraction of that to bring our stadium up to present day standards.

“Glenogle Baths was recently given millions because it dates back to Victorian times. Jock’s Lodge can be traced back to Roman times. The whole area around Meadowbank is steeped in history. It deserves similar treatment so the entire site can continue to be used for health and well-being.”

News Release: Athletic club will seek name change

The most successful athletic club in Scotland is to consider changing its name in protest at council proposals to seriously downsize Meadowbank.

Senior athletics coach Bill Walker has told Councillors he will seek to drop the word Edinburgh from the name of his club.

He said: “We are called Edinburgh Athletic Club but do not receive any grant from the Council. I will use my energies to find a sponsor for our club to ensure we remove Edinburgh from the club name. We have been very proud to say we represent our city but I feel we can no longer do this when the city is treating its athletes so badly.”

At a meeting a fortnight ago, Councillors endorsed a report that proposed selling upwards of one third of the land for housing and building a smaller arena with significantly less facilities.

“There is to be no space for throws, poll vault, steeplechase or storage,” continued Walker. “The warm-up area is to be scrapped and the running track moved to a wholely inappropriate part of the site.”

Save Meadowbank spokesman Kevin Connor said he understood the athletes frustration. “Other sports will be similarly affected. Council officials propose to do without outdoor five-a-side pitches, a gymnastic hall and many of the indoor halls. These may be included in a second stage but then only if more money becomes available in the future. Cycling has been hit even harder with only a vague promise of talks.”

Read published article in Evening News.

Save Meadowbank

Council votes to downsize and sell-off.

The Council voted against public opinion and sporting good yesterday when they agreed to radically downsize Meadowbank, and to surround it with luxury flats.
“Under the plans, the 16,000 seater stadium will be replaced with a 5,000 capacity arena, and some of the land will be sold to housing developers.” See BBC Report .

“We will make these games the greatest sporting event our country has ever seen”, said Alex Salmond when Scotland won the Commonwealth Games bid.
“This is not about politicians taking glory, or about the sporting world coming to Glasgow on its own. It’s about making sure there is a lasting legacy.”

Edinburgh, however, is set to lose its own Commonwealth Games legacy. Athletes and ordinary users from across Edinburgh and beyond will find it even more difficult to access the sports facilities that improve their chances of success, general fitness, and overall health.

Edinburgh Council decided yesterday that it preferred a legacy of short-sighted downsizing and sell-off, over the public demand that Meadowbank be upgraded in its entirety and that this public land remains in public hands.

The Council have refused to consider any options that did not involve sell-off. If they can find the money for schemes the public oppose, we believe that they should make a special effort for projects that the public support.

A phased affordable upgrading of the centre is achievable should the political will exist. Commonwealth Games medallist Chris Black agrees: “If my wife asked for a new kitchen she would get it when we can afford it. If the Council was her husband they would tell her she could only get it if she sold part of her Lounge.”

The campaign continues.

Next organising meeting: Mon 17th Mar, 7.30pm. All welcome.

Save Meadowbank Rally 10th March 2008

Meeting calls for all of Meadowbank to be retained

Save Meadowbank Rally March 10th 2008

Hundreds of people attended last night’s meeting to oppose plans to demolish Meadowbank Stadium and build homes on part of the site.

Boos rang round the hall of Holyrood Abbey Church when chairperson Linda Somerville read out a Council report that had been sent to councillors just three hours before the meeting.

In his report Jim Inch, the Director of Corporate Services, said: “Additional funding is required and I consider that the only significant prospect for realising this is the sale of part of the Meadowbank site.”

Commonwealth Games medallist Chris Black responded: “If my wife asked for a new kitchen she would get it when we can afford it. If the Council was her husband they would tell her she could only get it if she sold part of her Lounge.

“We seem to be fascinated about refurbishing Meadowbank. It is structurally sound. It will still be there in ten years time, maybe with its paint falling off but we would still have all of Meadowbank. You don’t upgrade it by selling off half of it.”

A hand vote was taken about whether the entire site should be saved. The poll showed unanimous support.

Deputy council leader Steve Cardownie attended the meeting with the SNP culture spokesperson Deidre Brock. And he promised to reflect on what was being told.

Said Cardownie: “You have to recognise the difference between the new and last administrations. None of them are here tonight. I am absolutely committed to retaining sports facilities at Meadowbank. I will study the report and take on board the views expressed here tonight.”

Local Liberal councillor Gary Peacock, who voted against his own party at the last Council meeting about Meadowbank, said he was aware of the importance. The two other local councillors, Labour leader Ewan Aitken at the SNP’s Stefan Tymkewycz, failed to attend. The Conservatives were also absent but two Green councillors and local MSP Kenny MacAskill were present.

The meeting had earlier heard from three members of the Save Meadowbank campaign. Graham Lamont said: “We are aware of the financial constraints under which the council is operating but believe that an upgrade of Meadowbank phased over a number of years is a both reasonable and realistic expectation. That is certainly the view of thousands of constituents, many of whom express a great deal of anger that this much-loved institution should even be under threat.”

Dimitris Theodossopoulos congratulated the new administration on retaining Meadowbank as its main dry sports venue but did not agree with options suggested by officials. “Both proposals involve the sale of significant parts of the site. All discussions have been around the budget. We want a vision, something that goes beyond a mere refurbishment.”

Senior athletics coach Bill Walker pointed out that money had been found for many other council projects and he was scathing of how Meadowbank had been run down. He quoted many staff cuts which he described as a false economy. He said: “All we can hope for is that all councillors see sense on Meadowbank. If a wrong decision is taken on Thursday they will be denying future generations a fair chance.”

Edinburgh Council will meet on Thursday 13th March to consider Jim Inch’s report.