Dear Councillor

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Let them know as comprehensively or as briefly as you like why you think Meadowbank should be upgraded in its entirety, not sold off neither in whole nor in part.

Please copy in the councillors of Ward 14, Craigentinny/ Duddingston; and the Lord Provost:
ewan.aitken@edinburgh.gov.uk; gary.peacock@edinburgh.gov.uk; stefan.tymkewycz@edinburgh.gov.uk; lord.provost@edinburgh.gov.uk

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Thanks to all who emailed the following or similar in the past.:

Dear Councillor

As one of your constituents, I oppose any attempt to sell off any part of the Meadowbank site, and wish to ensure that the range and level of sports provision at Meadowbank should be maintained and developed in the interests of sports.

How are we expected to produce world-class competitors for the coming Olympic and Commonwealth Games if we reduce the level of sports provision? Surely there should be a concerted effort to increase it!

As regards Scotland’s obesity and other health and fitness-related problems, it is clear that the sell-off of this sporting site is not the best way to address this issue.

The background meetings that led to the latest Council report—National and Regional Sports Facilities—produced to inform councillors’ decisions on the future of Meadowbank and the RCP made it clear that the world-leading cyclists that have come out of the Meadowbank velodrome are to be rewarded with the loss of that facility. The velodrome was excluded from any discussion as being “prohibitively expensive”. The latest report, in recommending the sale of land at Meadowbank to bridge a funding gap for the RCP, does not bring that fact into the open.

The Council rightly honoured the achievements of Chris Hoy with a civic reception at the City Chambers. Councillors should be made explicitly aware of the hidden implications of any casual agreement in principle to sell off land at Meadowbank.

Scotland’s official Commonwealth Games bid documentation clearly states that the RCP upgrade work is to be funded, “100% Scottish Executive”. This is logical since the Commonwealth Games bid was clearly a Scottish bid. Why is it that we keep reading that Meadowbank must be sacrificed for the RCP upgrade?

CEC should capitalise on this current sport- focused climate by pushing for a greater contribution for all sports facilities, including Meadowbank.

There is no appetite in Edinburgh to sell out the cyclists or any other group to solve the Council’s financial mess. Rather than take this quick fix, a proper budget for sports facilities must be planned out over a long term in order to ensure that there is an increase in the level of sports provision with time, not a fall.

Please let me know your position on the above.

Regards,

Name …………………………….

Address …………………………..

 

References

National and Regional Sports Facilities – Progress Report, 20 December 2007 http://cpol.edinburgh.gov.uk/getdoc_ext.asp?DocId=106307

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Candidate City File; p109, Table 8.4.2
http://www.thecgf.com/G2014_CCF_Vol1-3.pdf

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Thanks to all who emailed the following or similar to councillors in November and December.

Dear Councillor,

I wish to see all of the facilities at Meadowbank maintained and refurbished, and oppose the sell-off of any part of this public site.

Even though the full Council decided on Aug 23rd 2007 that Meadowbank should be either refurbished or rebuilt on site, various official council documents continue to suggest that the majority of the site could yet be sold off to private housing developers, and inaccurate propaganda in support of this line has been fed to the press.

At its Dec 20th 2007 meeting, the City of Edinburgh Council must now build on its earlier decision by making clear that Meadowbank is not to be sold off in whole or in part, and furthermore, should ensure all such references be struck from council documents.

CEC should demonstrate a commitment to sport and healthy lifestyles, and to combating obesity, by increasing the provision of sports facilities—not selling off yet more of what we already have! An adequate refurbishment at a reasonable cost could be carried out and paid for in phases, thus eliminating the need to raise all the finance in one go.

name:

address:

postcode:

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Please pass on any responses to this campaign:

savemeadowbank@blueyonder.co.uk

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Thanks to all who emailed the following or similar to councillors back in June.

Dear Councillor

I was very shocked to learn of the former Council’s plan to demolish Meadowbank Stadium and sell off the land to build yet more luxury flats. I understand that the former Council had a ‘vision’ for the future of Sport in Edinburgh that involved using the funds from the sale to part-finance a new stadium at Sighthill, and to upgrade the Royal Commonwealth Pool. It is a pity that the people of Edinburgh were not asked for their input into that ‘vision’ before the Council went ahead with 3 years of planning for a scheme that has close to zero support from the general public or the user groups.

It is obvious that the former administration did everything in its power to exclude the local community from the decisions that most affected them. For example, the recent Meadowbank Draft Development Brief (1) was a deliberately low key, and entirely phoney public consultation exercise that invited comment on the shape of the 800+ luxury flats that were to replace the stadium; it had no scope for comment on the central issue—whether we wanted the stadium to be replaced or not in the first place! That central question is, to this day, yet to be asked.

I very much hope that the culture within the new Council changes to one that is more interested in the views of the public that the Council is supposed to represent. I therefore welcome the new Lib Dem/ SNP administration’s commitment to assuring “communities are fully involved in decisions which affect them and [that] local democracy is enlarged”. (2)

Prior to the May elections, former Council leader, Ewan Aitken, made it clear that his party remained committed to pushing through the Meadowbank sell-off regardless of public opposition. His party have since been voted out of power.

Current Council leader, Jenny Dawe asserted a different agenda: “our priorities are retaining Meadowbank and refurbishing the Royal Commonwealth Pool.” (3) “We do not see the justification for selling off Meadowbank Stadium. The Sighthill scheme does not seem necessary and we should be looking at other ways of funding a refurbishment of the Commonwealth Pool.” (4) Former (and current) Deputy Council Leader Steve Cardownie agreed: “[Labour] should be concentrating on the refurbishment of both Meadowbank and the RCP” (5)

Given that the former administration used propaganda and spin to artificially link the fate of the two facilities, the new Council’s rejection of this falsehood is especially appreciated. Cllr Dawe asserted at a pre-election hustings that the Liberal Democrat’s “Nicol Stephen has pledged he will fund the money for two Olympic pools in the north of Scotland and redevelop the Royal Commonwealth Pool.” (6) Post-election, she confirmed that, given that any upgrade of the RCP would be of national importance to Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games bid, funding should be “an issue for the parliament to address.” (7)

Meadowbank is part of our national heritage but it is much more than simply a part of our past. It is an extremely well-used current resource whose value deserves to be properly assessed in more than just economic or property-development-potential terms such as were employed by the former council. The centre serves a valuable social purpose that will be sorely noted should it be reduced in significance in any way. Neither the local or wider-area residents, nor the sports groups that use the facility want the whole or partial site to be turned over to private housing developers.

The former Council’s trend to sell-off public assets is extremely short-sighted and I would like to know your position on this important principle.

Rather than selling off the family silver, I believe that Meadowbank should be subject to a phased refurbishment, the cost of which can be spread out over a number of years and does not have to strain the public purse. Publicly funding public facilities is by far the most economical in the medium to long term. Regarded as a leading authority on the public/ private funding issue, Professor Allyson Pollock (8), has estimated that PFI/ PPP-type deals cost the public an average of five times the capital outlay. The obvious lesson is that if we spend responsibly on projects like Meadowbank in the present, our kids can also have scope to do so on similar ventures in their lifetime; if we go for the PFI-type quick fix, our kids will be too burdened with servicing our debts to be able to finance necessary developments in the future.

It is therefore very positive to note the new leaders’ positions (9) with regard to the use of private finance to fund public projects. Cllr Dawe notes that the Lib Dems “have never been fans of PPP projects”, and that they “will be pursuing other means of financing new initiatives.” Likewise, Cllr Cardownie pointed out that the SNP’s “big problem with PPP schemes is that the public purse ends up paying for them for years… We don’t think it is appropriate simply to go for the easiest option in the short-term, and we’ve always felt that these schemes were more about the profits of the private sector companies than anything else.”

While I understand that government policy makes it difficult to fund projects as you may like, it is often the case that where there is a political will, there is a way. Please let me know your own opinion on this issue.

Finally, I note that after the April 26th Full Council Meeting, (10) Ewan Aitken’s election leaflet notes that the working group to be set up to look at the Meadowbank issue would “include, amongst others, local residents, and sports people including users of Meadowbank… Local people will have a real say on what happens at Meadowbank.” This fits in with the earlier point about “communities [being] involved in decisions which affect them and local democracy [being] enlarged”.

It is obviously very important that the public and the users be central to the debate on the future of Meadowbank. Could you give more details of how this will be carried out in practice, and how you see greater public participation being encouraged more generally in the functioning of the Council?

Yours

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(1) Meadowbank Development Brief

(2) Coalition Administration Formed

(3) http://news.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=651432007

(4) http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=163762007

(5) http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=603372007

(6) Meadowbank gets a reprive

(7) http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=324&id=737852007

(8) http://www.health.ed.ac.uk/CIPHP/staff/pollock.htm

(9) http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=757&id=737852007

(10) Labour motion to full council April 26th 2007

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