Take a stand to save under-threat sports centre, urge campaigners

Iain Nicolson Centre, Chryston Road, pic of protestors hitting out at closure plans. Frances McGlinchey'Photo Emma Mitchell'7/12/12
Iain Nicolson Centre, Chryston Road, pic of protestors hitting out at closure plans. Frances McGlinchey'Photo Emma Mitchell'7/12/12

PACK out a public meeting on controversial plans to axe a popular sports centre – that’s the rallying cry from campaigners.

Cash-strapped North Lanarkshire Council is currently considering a raft of cuts – which could mean the closure of the Iain Nicolson Recreation Centre in Chryston.

That has provoked a furious backlash among readers and local residents.

Independent Strathkelvin councillor Frances McGlinchey is raising the issue at a full meeting of the council on December 20, calling for the centre to be saved.

The facility is run by North Lanarkshire Leisure (NLL) on behalf of the council.

However, the council must make £73.3million worth of savings between 2013 and 2016 – and that means cutbacks at NLL.

That, in turn, has prompted NLL to launch a consultation on efficiency savings and service reductions.

Included on the ‘hit list’ is the closure of the Iain Nicolson Recreation Centre and reduced hours at Kilsyth Swimming Pool.

Concerned customers who use the fully-equipped fitness studio, sports hall and gym in Chryston have hit out. It has also caused anxiety for the 10 staff.

The Save Iain Nicolson Group is holding a public meeting on the closure plan in Chryston Cultural Centre on Thursday, December 20, at 7.30pm.

Spokesperson Linda Hone said the centre was used by a variety of groups.

She hit out: “This is the last dedicated indoor sports facility in our area and we feel that its removal would leave the future health of residents severely compromised.

“Iain Nicolson is a unique centre as it serves young and old, sick and healthy. It is not only a fitness centre, it is a social community hub.

“Better facilities are available in Cumbernauld and Coatbridge, but these are remote from our community. None of these facilities are reachable by all the people in the ward without private transport or bus changes.”

Supporters of the centre point out that there is a lot of new housebuilding which has taken place or is planned in the Northern Corridor – including Moodiesburn and Stepps – which will increase the demand for facilities.

A spokesman for North Lanarkshire Leisure stressed the current financial pressures facing services and the required level of savings required.

He said: “In many cases, this is resulting in very difficult decisions being made to reduce, rationalise or in some cases cease service provision altogether.

“As a charitable sports trust, North Lanarkshire Leisure is not immune to these efficiency pressures via significant reductions in the contract management fee from North Lanarkshire Council.

“Regrettably therefore, North Lanarkshire Leisure has required to identify several areas where services can be rationalised in order to meet the necessary savings.”

A consultation process is currently underway with stakeholders, customers, staff and partners.

To take part visit www.nlleisure.co.uk or pick up a form at the centre, but be quick – the closing date is this Friday, December 14.

The NLL spokesman emphasised that efficiences in the order of £5.5m had been made since the trust’s creation in 2006 and absence levels had been reduced.

That is scant comfort, however, to campaigners who feel the area is being stripped of a vital asset.

They have pointed out that the gym facilities at the new £23.3million Chryston High School and Cultural Centre will NOT be available to the general public.

* Have you got a comment? E-mail kirkyherald@jnscotland.co.uk

Alternatively you can call the newsdesk 0141 775 0040, find us on Facebook or visit us on Twitter

Or you can log in below and have you say on the site. Please note comments may be reprinted in the newspaper.