Packed public meeting in protest against school closure

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CAMPAIGNERS have sent a defiant message to council chiefs – hands off our sports centre!

Around 120 people attended a public meeting on proposals to shut the Iain Nicolson Recreation Centre, in Chryston.

Campaigners mounted a passionate defence of the facility, which is popular with a wide range of locals and groups – particularly in the Northern Corridor.

Cash-strapped North Lanarkshire Council must make £73.3million worth of savings between 2013 and 2016 – and that means cutbacks at North Lanarkshire Leisure (NLL).

Controversial proposals include the closure of the Iain Nicolson Centre – used 62,636 times in 2011-12 – and reduced hours at Kilsyth Swimming Pool.

NLL argues the centre is not needed with the opening of the £23.3million Chryston High School and Cultural Centre.

But furious locals have pointed out that the gym facilities at the school will NOT be available to the public.

That means patrons who use the fitness suite at the Iain Nicolson Centre – some of whom are using the facilities to get fit after operations such as heart surgery – face having to travel to Broadwood, in Cumbernauld.

The public meeting in Chryston Cultural Centre attracted politicians of every hue and none – and a wide selection of the community.

Linda Hone – spokesperson for the Save Iain Nicolson Centre Group, who organised the meeting – said: “The crowd were passionate and angry – all totally against the centre being considered for closure.”

It was suggested that £60,000 is all that would be saved by the closure – a drop in the ocean compared to the £73.3million needed.

It was also pointed out that thousands of new homes could be built in the area, so why take away facilities?

Strathkelvin councillor Frances McGlinchey raised the issue at a meeting of North Lanarkshire Council before attending the public meeting.

She said: “It was a great turn-out – standing room only. It was a wonderful endorsement of the campaign to save the Iain Nicolson Centre. They really have a mandate.”

NLL has organised its own public meeting on the proposed closure for Tuesday, January 8, 2013 – starting at 7.30pm in Chryston High School.

A spokesman for NLL said: “We will be taking on board all feedback from the consultation process and NLL will update all involved at the public meeting of January 8.”

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