Councillors have come under fire for breaking pre-election promises not to reduce sports facilities at Meadowbank.
Last month Edinburgh Council voted to sell at least one third of the land at Meadowbank for housing and build a scalled-down sports centre which will not contain two thirds of the existing facilities.
“This is precisely the opposite of what candidates promised pre-election”, said Save Meadowbank spokesperson Chris Gallacher.
Last year SNP Councillor Stefan Tymkewycz issued a joint statement with local MSP Kenny MacAskill that criticised Labour for reducing facilities. The statement read: “What we need is more public facilities not less … The local SNP totally disagree with the policy of selling our public spaces. If we lose more of our parks and open spaces for housing or other development they will be lost to us forever. We will continue the campaign to maintain our public facilities. They must be preserved for the use of all the community.”
Stefan Tymkewycz also sent an e-mail exactly one year ago when he pledged to “retain quality facilities covering all pursuits catered for at Meadowabnk (sic) presently”.
Campaigers think councillor Tymkewycz has gone back on his word. “When in power he did the exact opposite because the proposal he supported at the recent council meeting will mean the loss of almost two thirds of the existing facilities,” explained Chris Gallacher.
The Lib Dems have come under fire for going back on their word not to sell land at Meadowbank Stadium for housing.
Several Lib Dem councillors also pledged their full support for the Save Meadowbank campaign prior to last year’s election. Elaine Morris, now Councillor for Forth ward, was one of those whose election campaign included a pledge not to sell land at Meadowbank.
On 11 April 2007 she wrote a letter to one of her constituents in which she said: “The Lib Dem position on the refurbishment of Meadowbank is unequivocal. Our priority is to keep Meadowbank open and to maintain an athletics track in the stadium. We do not support the sale of the site for housing.” Last month Councillor Morris joined all but one of her Lib Dems colleagues in voting to sell at least one third of the Meadowbank site for housing.
Alyson Cameron of Trinity Community Council showed this letter to councillors before they voted. She said: “We deserve a Council which will fight for Edinburgh, keep the whole Meadowbank site and give us sports facilities we and especially our young people deserve.
“We deserve a Council which will keep its promises, not just throw them overboard at the first sign of difficulty.”
Pre-election communication issued jointly by Stefan Tymkewycz and Kenny MacAskill:
“Do you want to live in a concrete jungle?
Over the past few years the Labour run council have sold off too many of our public facilities. Lost forever the playing fields at Hawkhill, the allotments at Abbeyhill and part of Lochend Park is now being built on. Unless they are stopped we face the further loss of Meadowbank Stadium and possibly the golf course at Portobello Public Park.
Our recent campaign to preserve our local playing fields and facilities has received overwhelming support. We had a great response and it is clear that the residents of the east of Edinburgh understand much better than the council the need to preserve our sports facilities and open spaces.
What we need is more public facilities not less. If we want to solve the problems of vandalism, anti-social behaviour and the growing level of obesity in our children, then we have to give our young people the opportunity to get involved in sport or other worthwhile activities. We need to increase the recreational facilities in our ever-expanding city for all residents, young and old, and allow them some choice of how they spend their free time.
The local SNP totally disagree with the policy of selling our public spaces. If we lose more of our parks and open spaces for housing or other development they will be lost to us forever. We will continue the campaign to maintain our public facilities. They must be preserved for the use of all the community.
Kenny MacAskill MSP”