News Release: Save Meadowbank to “give kids the same chances I had”

Don McGrattan, who describes himself as a “proud citizen of EH6 in the greatest wee city in the world”, has written to Edinburgh Council to ask them to think again about their plan to demolish Meadowbank and replace it with a scaled down sports centre.

“I am disgusted at the proposal to downgrade Meadowbank Stadium,” he wrote. “Meadowbank has been there since the 1970 Commonwealth Games. I personally played Judo there, five and seven a side football, squash, badminton, basketball, trampoline and even ran on the famous tartan track.

“There must be thousands of people living in and around Edinburgh who had their first taste of sport there and who have led healthy, active and fulfilled lives which might never have happened without such a great resource.

“The centre is a bit run down now but it still serves a purpose. I’d rather pay a bit more Council tax to give kids the same chances as I had down the years because of Meadowbank.

“Sort out your priorities. Think of the health and well being of kids – and sports enthusiasts of all ages – in this great city. It’s much more important than the vagaries of one current bunch of councillors who are entrusted to look after the city on behalf of its citizens.

“Take that seriously or lose the perks at the next election. Please think hard and vote for the people – it shouldn’t be about the money.”

Thousands have already objected to the City of Edinburgh Council about its plans for Meadowbank. A new petition to the Scottish Parliament is available through the website or directly at


News Release: Fraud expert says Audit Scotland should “follow the money” over Meadowbank land deal

A former government fraud investigator today said Audit Scotland should “follow the money” to get the bottom of a controversial Meadowbank land deal.

Chris Cook is a former fraud investigator for the Department of Trade & Industry and was subsequently a City regulator. Reacting to news that Audit Scotland is poised to investigate the recent deal that saw Edinburgh Council buy land at 1% of its market value, he said: “On the surface it looks great the Council will make a large profit but that might not be the whole story as we don’t yet know what other deals were linked to this one.

“I would investigate who sold the land to previous owners Reasonmutual and for how much. I would also ask questions about other land deals in the area that might be related.

“The ’round number’ sale price of £100,000 sets alarm bells ringing too. It is the sort of value above which certain bureaucratic permissions or checks and balances kick in, and below which there are very few questions asked. And, as the Scottish Information Commissioner found, documentation may be somewhat sparse.

“I would ask what other transactions at this price level have been made by the Council and investigate them as well.

“Hopefully Audit Scotland will not confine their examination purely to this one transaction. To establish the truth all an auditor has to do is remember the fraud investigator’s Golden Rule and ‘follow the money’.”

News Release: Gymnastics coach gets on her high horse to criticise Meadowbank plan

A prominent gymnastics coach has voiced strong concern about facilities for her sport if Edinburgh Council proceeds with its plan to downsize Meadowbank.

Nicola Fielding has coached for a number of years at Meadowbank which is home to three gymnastic clubs and is where hundreds of youngsters take part in the sport every week. She said: ‘The equipment is not the best but I have still been able to turn out national champions.

‘At the moment we have a decidated hall in Meadowbank. That’s great because it is a sealed facility. All equipment is readily available and it’s easy for officials to look after children in their care.

‘The same can’t be said for multi-use facilities, which is what the Council propose to introduce. They want one sports hall with different sports separated by curtains. That means young gymnasts would share the same hall with other sports such as badminton and five-a-side football.

‘The issue I have with gymnastics is that a multi-use hall simply will not work. They tried the same at Drum Brae and look what happened. A young child managed to wander off and was found at the bottom of the road.

‘None of this should be news to the Council. I have mentioned this before and nobody listens to me.

‘Gymnastics is perhaps the biggest source of income to Meadowbank sports centre yet this doesn’t seem to have had any bearing on the proposed redesign. It would be physically impossible to incorporate the current gymnastics classes that Meadowbank offer into the proposed smaller facility.’

Save Meadowbank spokesman Kevin Connor commented: ‘Those who use Meadowbank know what is proposed simply won’t work for their sport. We have had complaints from athletics, cycling, squash, badminton, football, hockey and now gymnastics. The list goes on. It’s high time the Council listen to what people are saying and stop trying to downsize Edinburgh’s premier sports facility just because they want to sell the land for housing.’

A petition to ask the Scottish Government to provide more funding for national facilities is available on the website.

(Released: Thursday 18 September 2008)

News Release: Heart attack gives Olympian more time to spend on Meadowbank campaign

A former Olympian today shrugged off a recent heart attack by saying it only gives him more time to campaign to save Meadowbank Stadium from closure.

Chris Black won two Commonwealth Games medals and reached an Olympic hammer final. He has used Meadowbank since 1970 where he continues to train and now coaches Scottish record holder and television gladiator Shirley Webb.

Black suffered heart problems two months ago. ‘Doctors initially told me it was indigestion so I kept on going,’ he recalled. ‘It was only when it happened again and I couldn’t breathe properly that they rushed me to hospital and told me it was a heart attack.

‘I have been told to take it easy but that just gives me more time to campaign to save Meadowbank. The Council plans to do away with many of the sports on the site, including the throwing area. It’s the only place in Scotland that has a dedicated throwing area beside a stadium. Their plan is wrong because Meadowbank is precisely the sort of facility that should be retained and upgraded.

‘We don’t need Olympic sized stadiums. We need local facilities and that is where Meadowbank is absolutely vital. Allan Wells and I have known each other ever since we lived about three doors apart at Fernieside. We have been calling on the Council to ditch its stupid plan to downsize Meadowbank. Now current Olympic medallist Chris Hoy is saying exactly the same thing. I hope the Council listens to us and thousands of others who feel the same way.’

Save Meadowbank spokesman Kevin Connor said: ‘We wish Chris Black a full recovery. We are all grateful to him for the time he has spent saving Meadowbank.’

A petition to ask the Scottish Government to provide more funding for national facilities such as Meadowbank is available on the website.

(Released: Saturday 13 September 2008)

News Release: Meadowbank has concert venue role

Meadowbank is a perfect venue for gigs
Meadowbank is a great venue for concerts

Meadowbank is a great venue for concerts and Edinburgh Council would be “silly” to get rid of one of the main places capable of hosting such events.

So says Sylvia Parma, of Newington in Edinburgh. She wrote to Edinburgh Council in July to give them yet another reason to keep the popular sports facility.

Over the years Meadowbank has hosted a number of very successful concerts including Prince, Radiohead and Kaiser Chiefs.

“The venue should be kept as it is. It is great for both sporting events and concerts, and Edinburgh does not have many such places,” wrote Sylvia.

“Most main concerts are held in Glasgow for that very reason. Therefore it would be quite silly to get rid of one of the main places Edinburgh has for staging concerts and other kinds of entertainment.

“I do not see the point of demolishing one of Edinburgh’s assets in order to provide space for housing. There is plenty of room for housing around Little France and Craigmillar is being redeveloped.

“Meadowbank is a main part of life in Edinburgh and because of this should not be demolished and sold off for housing.”

News Release: Scottish Cycling joins call for East of Scotland venue

Scottish Cycling
Edinburgh Council should retain a track cycle facility at Meadowbank

Scottish Cycling says it needs a low cost competition standard cycle track in the East of Scotland.

The sport’s governing body has published a national facilities strategy that says it needs more than just the proposed new velodrome in Glasgow. Their document, prepared by Genesis Strategic Management Consultants, covers all kinds of cycle disciplines. For track cycling, it says the main challenge is at regional level and it highlights the success of the Meadowbank velodrome.

The report states: ‘One of the great strengths of cycling as a sport is the breadth and diversity of its club network. However, as much of the activity takes place on the roads, it can be difficult for young people in particular to engage formally with the sport. This is where the sport needs to build on the strength of the club network by creating a set of development centres around the country.

‘The creation of a formal network of regional development hubs in the main population centres will provide much improved access to the sport and stronger feeder structures into national facilities.’

It recommends the creation of two low cost venues for track cycling of competition standard, one in the East of Scotland and the other in the North East. The cost is an estimated £5 million at 2008 prices.

Triple Olympic Gold medallist Chris Hoy has already called for suitable facilities for his sport. Hoy started his career at the closure-threatened Meadowbank velodrome and he has called on Edinburgh’s Council to rethink its plan for sport provision at the popular venue.

Allister Watson, a director of Scottish Cycling, says in light of his organisation’s report Edinburgh Council should do all it can to retain a track cycle facility at Meadowbank. He said: ‘The Meadowbank site is perfect for sport. It is very convenient because it is centrally located and contains a mix of facilities that is available to everyone. A low cost track on its own wouldn’t do. But it would be enough if it had the necessary other facilities nearby. Manchester’s sports village is a good example.’

Save Meadowbank spokesman Kevin Connor welcomed the report. He added: ‘Edinburgh Council and the Scottish Government both say they want to honour Chris Hoy for his achievements. The best way the Council can do that is to retain track cycling at Meadowbank with Alex Salmond providing the funds. This is an ideal chance for the SNP Government to invest in sport and provide adequate funding so that Councils can maintain facilities such as Meadowbank.’

A petition to ask the Scottish Government to provide more funding for national facilities is available on the website.

News Release: Head of sport given tough time at Community Council meeting

The senior council official who drafted the current plan to downsize Meadowbank was given a tough time at last night’s Community Council meeting in Craigentinny.

Stephanie-Anne Harris, who is the City of Edinburgh council’s head of sport, was speaking at Craigentinny/Meadowbank Community Council. She outlined Edinburgh Council’s current plan and said she would also be speaking with other Community Councils who had objected to it. She explained that her report on the future of Meadowbank was one of a number of related reports that are due to be published on the Council website on 9 October and debated the following week.

However she was met with a series of objections from both sporting groups and local residents, none of whom agreed with what was proposed. Chairman Giacomo Modica said: “I’d like you to talk to all other Community Councils, not just those who have publicly objected, because many others also share the same view.

“I would also like the wider community to be more involved. We are being offered less sport facilities for an ever increasing population. We are prepared to wait until the resouces are there to rebuild the whole of Meadowbank.”

And he pleaded with the head of sport: “We don’t want you to sell the land. Don’t reduce the land because you won’t be able to get it back.”

Two councillors were present to hear the discussion. Stefan Tymkewycz said he had voted for the plan when it had been debated last March but Labour councillor Ewan Aitken said he had voted against it and would continue to oppose any plan that reduced facilities.

Several speakers said the Council had its priorities wrong. Save Meadowbank spokesman Kevin Connor commented: “The current plan is based entirely on the cost of providing a new build facility at Meadowbank funded by selling almost half the site for housing. The head of sport shouldn’t be stating a case that involves the building of new homes to fund a significant reduction of facilities. She should be finding out what sporting facilities are required and exploring ways of getting the funds. If the Council can’t afford it she should be making a strong case for more central government money, as we are doing in our petition on the Parliament website.”

The petition to ask the Scottish Government to provide more funding for national facilities is also available on the website.