Ruling administration divided on Huntershill

Huntershill artist's impression
Huntershill artist's impression

Cracks have appeared in East Dunbartonshire Council’s ruling administration after Liberal Democrat Councillors voted against plans to build a new sports facility.

The Lib Dems rebelled at a full meeting on December 17 over concerns that the cost of the project could keep increasing, impacting on other projects.

The outdoor sports facility at Huntershill, in Bishopbriggs, is now estimated to cost £4.4million more than originally budgeted after contamination was found on the land.

An extra £2.6million is needed to get ride of the contaminants, plus “associated costs”.

It means the orginal cost of £3.4 million has now more than doubled to £7.8 million.

This shortfall will be taken from the council’s 10 year capital investment funding plan.

Councillor Ashay Ghai, leader of the LibDems, who are part of the council’s ruling administration, said: “This will undoubtedly have a knock-on effect for Bearsden and Milngavie. It would have an impact on projects such as the new Allander Leisure Centre.

“We should pause and find out how this affects other projects before we go ahead because the price could keep increasing and we could end up with a situation similar to the Edinburgh trams.

“We think it’s bad value for money so that’s why we ruled seperately from the rest of the administration.

“Serious questions need to be asked.

“We want the council to delay any decision to underwrite the extra money and to find out whether the extra costs could be funded by a third party.”

Plans for the new facility include an all-weather sports pitch with floodlighting and fencing, sports pavilion with 10 changing rooms, recreation hall, three flodlit all-weather tennis courts and a six-lane athletics track.

Councillor Alan Moir, convener of development and regeneration, said: “The results of extensive testing work are more serious than initially anticipated.

“I’m bitterly disappointed at the unavoidable increase in the cost of the project ...but we need to balance the increased costs against the need to address the contaminated materials and desire to deliver the Huntershill development - which has been a long-cherished ambition for this authority for many years.

“The additional funding will be sourced from the council’s capital programme which is funded differently and completely separate from the revenue budget, which pays for day to day services.”

Funding of £50,000 has also been secured from Sportsscotland for the project.