Council Is Selling All Centres ( SAC)
Local authority want facility off their books
A torchlight meeting in a darkened car park. Accusations of spies lurking furtively in the shadows.
And claims of sabotage as posters advertising a “summit” meeting are mysteriously ripped off walls and hoardings.
No – it’s not a meeting of the Klu Klux Klan in Hickory Hollow, Arakansas in the 50s.
And no . . . it’s not a clandestine, cover- up being leaked in the basement of Washington’s Watergate Hotel in the 70s.
This is Troon, South Ayrshire 2018 . . . and the cloak- and- dagger involves the proposed take- over of a community activity centre.
It’s Dundonald Gymnastics Club ( DGC) versus Muirhead Tennants and Residents Association ( MTRA).
And in the middle we have SAC. Normally this would mean South Ayrshire Council . . . but in this case, it really stands for Sell All Centres.
And if there’s room for another acronym – let’s throw in the real reason behind this rammy – it’s called C. A. T . . . Community Asset Transfer.
SAC wants to get Muirhead Activity Centre – and its running costs – off its books.
DCG – a well organised and well funded gymnastic club – would love it as their new permanent home.
They’re currently based in Dundonald Activity Centre – but having to move vaulting horses and other equipment after every session is apparently getting in the way of healthy exercise.
With DAC ( not another acronym! – Ed) attached to Dundonald Primary School and protected from CAT, the Muirhead building is a sitting target for them.
But DGC operate classes seven days a week – and a take- over would leave little or no room for other sports and clubs that currently use Muirhead.
And it’s this possible exclusion of other sports and interests - by a single self- serving club - that has rightly upset MTRA.
But the real villain in this localised skirmish is the Community Asset Transfer policy itself.
Our local council is using it as a convenient back door to off load the expense of running village halls and community properties across the whole of South Ayrshire.
Interestingly, last week’s Budget - in a nod to the centenary of 1918 – announced extra funding to protect and preserve the many village halls built to help small communities recover from the ravages of the Great War.
In stark contrast, South Ayrshire Council wants to wash their hands of them!
The Muirhead decision will finally fall to a full SAC meeting. It will be interesting to see if the four elected Troon councillors look their constituents in the eye – or choose to look away in line with council policy.
From where I sit, Dundonald Gymnastics Club has 400 plus members, a waiting list, over 1000 internet followers and employs more coaches than Dodds of Troon.
It appears everyone and their auntie wants to see the wean wearing a wee blue leotard and a medal. That’s fine.
But surely not at the expense of other children with other interests and needs.
If DGC want a place to themselves – let them find it and fund it themselves.
SAC normally means South Ayrshire Council in this case it stands for Sell All Centres
In the dark All four Troon councillors were put under the spotlight