The Scottish Parliament’s petitions committee this afternoon asked the Scottish Government to state a view on Edinburgh Council’s decision to downsize Meadowbank Stadium.
The committee heard a petition lodged by the Save Meadowbank campaign which called on the Scottish Government to clarify how a lasting legacy from the 2014 Commonwealth Games can be delivered and asked them to provide adequate funding to local authorities.
Committee convener Frank McAveety MSP described it as ‘a meaningful petition’. He added: ‘Significant sporting stars like Chris Hoy have expressed views supporting this so we do need to have views from Government.’
Local parliamentarians declared their support of the campaign. Green MSP Robin Harper said: ‘It is very important that this be considered at the highest possible level.’ Independent Margo MacDonald provided a letter of support saying we should ‘ensure the existing range of sporting facilities is not diminished.’ Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill appeared in his capacity as MSP for the constituency that covers Meadowbank. He spoke in favour of the petition, saying: ‘Meadowbank has a soft spot in the heart of Scots. It is in the very centre of the city, affords easy access and has served everyone well, not just elite athletes.’
The committee decided to refer to petition to the Scottish Government, the Health and Sport committee and the City of Edinburgh Council.
In March this year Edinburgh Council’s Lib Dem/SNP coalition, supported by the Tories, decided to downsize the popular sports facility and sell much of the site for housing. Thousands have objected to this plan, which will affect dozens of sports. A high-profile campaign to save the landmark site has attracted support from many local personalities, including The Proclaimers, Radio One DJ Edith Bowman, X factor winner Leon Jackson and triple Olympic gold medallist Chris Hoy, who recently fronted a campaign video.
Campaigner Donald Gorrie, who stood down as an MSP last year, said: ‘The Scottish Government and Parliament should work with Edinburgh Council to create a multi-sports centre on the whole of the Meadowbank site. The Council’s foolish and short-sighted policy of selling almost half the site for unwanted housing should be abandoned because it will deny sportspeople essential training facilities. If Parliament is at all serious about supporting a successful Scottish team at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, it must ensure good facilities at Meadowbank.’
Save Meadowbank spokesman Kevin Connor welcomed the petition’s referral. He said: ‘People all over the world, from the Cayman Islands to New Zealand, have asked the Scottish Government to provide money for sports facilities. Meadowbank is an iconic site synonymous with sport and we should be doing all we can to retain our facilities.’