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.