Is the axe hanging over the Allander?

GV off allander'em'27/1/09
GV off allander'em'27/1/09

THE fate of the Allander Leisure Centre in Bearsden still hangs in the balance as the council is now going to look into the cost of a refurbishment.

This decision was made at last Thursday’s full council meeting after the Conservative, Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrat groups put forward the suggestion in amendments to a motion which was proposed by Labour council leader Rhondda Geekie.

Kilmardinny Westpark Action Group (KWAG) met with councillors from the three parties the previous day to raise the issue as they believe it would be a mistake not to consider improvements at the Allander in addition to a detailed design, cost and funding of a new leisure centre.

The recent public consultation about the Allander Leisure Centre, which opened in 1977, showed that the people in Milngavie and Bearsden are overwhelmingly against any closure of the leisure centre without a replacement being in place and they would like to see a new centre with facilities at least equal to those available already.

Councillor Rhondda Geekie said: “People don’t want an opportunity which developers will grab.

“We thought the best option would be to go for a new Allander - nothing diluting the services in place, maybe even adding to them.”

The council has made a commitment to maintain the current centre until a decision is made and it will carry on its consultation with local members, the Leisure and Culture Trust and groups in the local community as well as negotiations with the developers about their financial contribution for either outcome.

Conservative Councillor Amanda Stewart for Bearsden North thinks people will feel let down if the council chooses to refurbish the centre instead of building a new one.

She said: “The building is not fit for purpose. I think the public would be disappointed and feel sold short by a decision to improve the current one.”

While Councillor Una Walker pointed out that the refurbishment of older buildings can be problematic.

She said: “Bishopbriggs Leisure Centre does not have the technology that we have in newer centres such as Kirkintilloch.

“I recently opened the improved Charlie’s play area and it was too hot for the children as it’s not possible to isolate the warmer temperature of the pool area from it.

“My fear is that if you suggest refurbishment as an option - that is what you will get and in ten years time it will need more work done.”

Keith Small from KWAG said: “No decision has been made yet. This is about getting all the relevant information about both so we know exactly what we would get and how much it would cost.

“We need all the facts before committing to a decision.

“The council must insist that the developers enter into a legally binding agreement to make a contribution of £10 million towards the final option chosen.

“Comments made by several councillors about the negative aspects of a refurbishment of Bishopbriggs Leisure Centre should be treated with caution.

“If further work is required so soon that is more a comment on the specification and workmanship of the work.

“Look around Glasgow city centre and you will see many fine examples of buildings that have been modernised and are fit for purpose for many years to come.”