News Release: MP tells Inquiry Meadowbank plan “would be appalling blunder”

Gavin Strang today warned Edinburgh Council about its plan to downsize Meadowbank Stadium.
 
He was speaking at a Public Inquiry into the Edinburgh Local Plan. The Edinburgh East MP, whose constituency covers the international sports centre, said: “I have never come across a planning issue that has aroused such massive public opposition.
 
“It’s not just about now. It’s about future generations. Meadowbank is very central, a key asset. It would be such an appalling blunder to downsize the facility.”
 
Over 1600 objections were lodged with Edinburgh Council about Meadowbank, more than the number of objections for all other parts of the Local Plan combined.
 
Inquiry reporters Dan Jackman and Richard Bowden heard accusations that the Local Plan as proposed was misleading because it made no mention of the plan to build houses on a significant part of the Meadowbank site. And there were complaints about how the Inquiry had been conducted with several objectors denied the chance to attend the hearing. Craigentinny/Meadowbank Community Council also complained about being omitted from the list of respondents.
 
Council officials explained decisions on Meadowbank are being made as part of a completely separate process.

The Inquiry considered three options: to completely remove Meadowbank from the Local Plan; to change it to read “the entire site should be retained for sports use”; or to expand it to include a fuller and updated explanation of the Council’s plan. The objectors preferred the second option, while Council officials wanted the third.
 
The hearing was then adjourned. A further exchange of correspondence will take place before Christmas. The Inquriry Reporters will publish their conclusions around the middle of next year.

News Release: Council votes to retain Meadowbank – for six years at least

Meadowbank Stadium was this afternoon given a stay of execution when its owners the City of Edinburgh Council, decided to accept a report that recommended postponing its demolition due to a £12 million funding shortfall. The report also mentioned the need to keep training facilities open in the run up to the 2012 Olympics and 2014 Commonwealth Games so today’s decision should mean Meadowbank will remain in its current form for at least six years.

Alternative proposals by opposition parties were all defeated as the ruling Lib Dem/SNP administration voted en mass to accept the report. But they ordered officials to look again at the cost of keeping it open. Council officials had repeatedly said it would require “a minimum of £11.9 million simply for the facility to remain operational” but SNP sports spokesperson Deidre Brock said: “There is no intention of spending almost £12 million to keep Meadowbank open. We will only spend a fraction of that.”

Marjorie Thomas, the Lib Dem spokesperson for sport, said she was “disappointed the project has had to be put on the back burner but it is the only sensible thing to do. We have to be prudent with our funds and the Royal Commonwealth Pool refurbishment has to succeed.”

Fellow Lib Dem Gary Peacock, who has twice voted against his own party on Meadowbank, declared: “I hope the delay will provide an opportunity for further consultation with users and the Scottish Government.”

Gordon Buchan of the Conservatives said: “In anyone’s book this is an abject failure for the Labour, Lib Dem and SNP administrations.” His colleague, Iain Whyte, blamed previous council leader Ewan Aitken and hit out at what he called a “misguided campaign” to save Meadowbank. “This frankly is a disaster for the future of sport in the region. We have missed our chance and lost our opportunity for a very long time.”

The three Green councillors continued their full support of the Save Meadowbank campaign. Their leader, Alison Johnstone, said: “Delaying the project makes sense. Cancelling the sale of land would make even more sense. How can leaving only £1.25 million in the Meadowbank bank account be described as prudent?”

Last March the City of Edinburgh Council’s Lib Dem/SNP administration, supported by the Tories, voted to scale down the hugely popular Edinburgh sports site, which hosted both the 1970 and 1986 Commonwealth Games. They proposed removing most of the existing sports provision and selling around forty per cent of the land for housing.

Thousands objected to this plan, which would have affected dozens of sports. A high-profile campaign to save the landmark site 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 fronted a campaign video.

Now councillors have changed their mind, citing the credit crunch and a £12 million black hole in their funding plan.

But campaigners were critical of the report. Alyson Cameron of Trinity Community Council highlighted the lack of vision which goes against Edinburgh’s much vaunted policy of making Scotland’s capital the most physically active European city by 2020. She told councillors: “Every time we get here the plans get worse. First there was Sighthill, a great scheme but in the wrong place and a huge funding gap. Then there was mini Meadowbank, cuts in sports provision and unfounded. Now we have the latest plan, no new build at Meadowbank until 2015 and some improvements meantime. We need leadership from the Council. The people of Edinburgh deserve better.”

Save Meadowbank spokesman Kevin Connor highlighted the additional £12 million spend mentioned in the report. He distributed an alternative paper that quoted the Council’s own figures to show the total cost to the Council of upgrading Meadowbank would be just £16.5 million, half the cost of a rebuild.

Veteran athletics coach Bill Walker spoke about the need to retain and improve sports facilities. He criticised the plan to withdraw £4.75 million of funds promised to Meadowbank just seven months previously. Former councillor Phyllis Heriot, representing Craigentinny/Meadowbank Community Council, criticised the lack of consultation and mentioned a 4,000 name petition recently delivered to the Scottish Parliament.

Officials now have two months to report back to the Council with the likely costs of keeping Meadowbank open in its current form.

News Release: Proclaimers call for all of Meadowbank to be saved

We fully support the retention and upgrading of Meadowbank and all sports facilities

We fully support the retention and upgrading of Meadowbank and all sports facilities.

The Proclaimers have backed the Save Meadowbank campaign by joining the call for all of Meadowbank’s facilities to be retained and upgraded.

The City of Edinburgh Council’s Lib Dem/SNP administration, supported by the Tories, want to scale down the hugely popular Edinburgh sports site, which hosted both the 1970 and 1986 Commonwealth Games. Most of the existing sports provision will go and around forty per cent of the land will be sold 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 Radio One DJ Edith Bowman, X factor winner Leon Jackson and triple Olympic gold medallist Chris Hoy, who recently fronted a campaign video.

Now The Proclaimers have pledged their support to save the entire site. Charlie and Craig Reid said: “Meadowbank is a vitally important facilty for Edinburgh. The fact that succesive councils let it get into a state of disrepair was very regretable. We fully support the retention and upgrading of Meadowbank and all sports facilities.”

Save Meadowbank spokesman Kevin Connor welcomed The Proclaimers continued support. 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.”

Visit The Proclaimers website.

News Release: Government asked to comment on Meadowbank petition

The Scottish Government should provide funding to upgrade Meadowbank

The Scottish Government should provide funding to upgrade sport facilities like Meadowbank

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.’

News Release: Big Brother winner backs Save Meadowbank Campaign

Celebrity Big Brother Highjack winner John Loughton is backing the campaign to save Meadowbank Stadium from demolition.

The 21 year old lives in Scotland’s capital and is standing for election to the City of Edinburgh Council as an independent candidate in a forthcoming by-election. He says he is happy to support the campaign to save a hugely popular sports facility.

He said: “No-one should ever under estimate or devalue the importance of OUR local, grassroots facilities and buildings. Plans of development, ‘modernisation’ or in worst case situations demolition should always have the provision for local people and the opportunities for the wider community as top priority – not any political, financial or private interest.

“Meadowbank stadium is no different and if the unwanted sledgehammer plans are approved, we will play witness to a decision which serves purely private interests and blatantly ignores not only the desires and requirements of local people, but ignores the voice of thousands of people.

“City of Edinburgh Council, I plee to you to listen to the people, the people who elected you and ensure not only democracy is served, but that ultimately our great stadium is saved!”

John is just the latest to sing the praises of the international sports centre, which hosted the Commonwealth Games in both 1970 and 1986. The city’s Lib Dem/SNP administration, backed by the Tories, have voted to demolish the hugely popular Council-run site. They want to replace it with housing and a scaled-down leisure centre that will lack almost two thirds of the existing facilities.

Thousands have lodged objections with the Council and a high profile campaign to save the 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.

“It’s high time the Lib Dem/SNP administration listened to what people are telling them,” said Save Meadowbank spokesman Kevin Connor. “Our campaign has been backed by people all over the world, from the Cayman Islands to New Zealand.

“Elite athletes realise its importance. Those who coach there think it must be saved. People from all over Edinburgh and beyond want to keep the site. Meadowbank is an iconic site synonymous with sport and we should be doing all we can to retain our facilities.”

News Release: Karate faces the chop if Meadowbank plans proceed

The Commonwealth Karate championships 2008 was held at Meadowbank

The Commonwealth Karate championships 2008 was held at Meadowbank

Karate would be seriously affected if Edinburgh Council proceeds with its plan to downsize Meadowbank Stadium, according to the Director of sport for the Scottish Karate Governing Body.

Hamish Adam has been a Karate coach for 40 years and has been based in Meadowbank Stadium since it opened. As well as running his own club at the stadium, he has been involved in Karate at all levels from teaching five year old children to coaching European and World champions.

He was a member of the British team that won the World championships in 1975, when they also became the first team ever to defeat Japan. On retiring from competition he held the position of National coach for 15 years.

He said: “Meadowbank Stadium is a very important venue for Scottish Karate. Not only at grass roots level but also for our elite athletes from all over Scotland. Scottish Karate use the stadium for all our competition events as well as the venue for our elite athlete training. Only three months ago we held the Commonwealth Karate championships, the most successful Karate event ever held in the U.K. Around 2000 Karate students of all ages and standards, from children to elite athletes, competed in this two day event. South Africa alone had over two hundred participants.

“As Director of sport for Scottish Karate I feel that not only will the downsizing of Meadowbank have a detrimental effect on Karate in the Edinburgh area, but on the whole of Scottish Karate, as it has been the centre most used by us since it opened.

“Although practised worldwide, Karate is not yet an Olympic sport but we are in discussion with the Olympic committee and are lobbying for its inclusion as a demonstration sport for 2012.

“Karate is considered to be one of the best all round sports for children because it builds confidence, discipline and all round general fitness. The coaches at Meadowbank over the years have taken children from as young as five and brought them to a level where they have eventually represented Scotland at international level, winning European and World titles. I think that the plans put forward for the intended changes at Meadowbank would seriously affect Scottish Karate and the plans we have for the future of the sport.”

Save Meadowbank spokesman Kevin Connor commented: “Karate is one of many sports that have been overlooked by the Council in its haste to sell the land. We call upon the Lib Dem/SNP administration to listen to what thousands have been saying and retain the facilities.”

News Release: Council head misses second Meadowbank deadline in successive days

A senior Council official charged with delivering a scaled down sports centre at Meadowbank has angered Northfield/Willowbrae Community Council by failing to attend a meeting at which she was to be the guest speaker.
 
Stephanie-Anne Harris, Head of Sport at The City of Edinburgh Council, had been due to attend last night’s meeting at Northfield Community Centre. It was to be the second event in her ‘tour’ of local Community Councils but she called off at short notice.
 
This was the second missed deadline in as many days for Ms Harris because she also failed to provide a detailed technical appraisal for her employers to debate this week in the City Chambers. And she used this failure as the reason for cancelling her appearance in front of community councillors.
 
Community Council secretary Stewart Kerr explained he had received an e-mail from Ms Harris in which she said the full Council would now discuss her report in November and she offered to attend the next Community Council meeting instead.
 
“Unfortunately our next meeting won’t be until 17 December, which will be after Edinburgh Council has debated the report,” the secretary explained. “We will be writing to Ms Harris to complain about her non-attendance.”
 
The meeting offered its continued support to the campaign to save Meadowbank from closure. “We are willing to fight on to save all of Meadowbank, not just two thirds of it,” said Mr Kerr.
 
Northfield/Willowbrae is just one of many Community Councils in the Edinburgh area who have publicly objected to the Lib Dem/SNP coalition’s plan, which is also supported by the Tories, to downsize the popular sports facility and sell much of the site for housing. 
 
“Only last month Ms Harris attended a Craigentinny/Meadowbank Community Council meeting and reiterated her report would be available on Edinburgh Council’s website seven days before it went before the Council meeting on 16 October,” said Save Meadowbank spokesman Kevin Connor.
 
“She has failed to meet a deadline to prepare a technical appraisal and used that failure as a reason for not keeping her word to meet with a community council. This is yet another sign of how the Council is failing to consult about sports provision for the nation’s capital city.”
 
Thousands have objected to Edinburgh Council’s plan, which will affect dozens of sports. A high-profile campaign to save the landmark site has attracted support from many local personalities, including triple Olympic medallist Chris Hoy who fronted a campaign video.