Coun­cil­lor’s anger at leisure cen­tre bailout

Op­po­si­tion: ‘Funds will only se­cure fa­cil­ity un­til next cash cri­sis’

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - LOCAL NEWS -

Mo­ray Leisure Cen­tre has been dis­missed as a “bot­tom­less pit” by a coun­cil­lor op­posed to its con­tin­ued fund­ing by the coun­cil.

The El­gin fa­cil­ity has been strug­gling for some time and this week had to be bailed-out with a res­cue pack­age, voted through by the coun­cil.

That de­ci­sion was hailed as good news for the re­gion as it is Mo­ray’s largest sports cen­tre and had been on the brink of clo­sure.

It saw a fresh 12-month lease agree­ment of­fered to op­er­a­tors High­land High Life (HHL), which will cost the coun­cil £689,000 and es­tab­lished a coun­cil ad­min­is­tered £120,000 fund to meet fu­ture costs.

Though a ma­jor­ity of coun­cil­lors said it was a ma­jor step in turn­ing around the cen­tre’s for­tunes not all were so pos­i­tive.

Yes­ter­day Keith and Cullen Coun­cil­lor Don­ald Gatt said that while the deal was a good one for El­gin and its peo­ple it was bad for the Mo­ray tax­payer.

“The Mo­ray Coun­cil de­ci­sion to pump yet more money into the bot­tom­less pit of Mo­ray Leisure Cen­tre se­cures the fa­cil­ity only un­til the next cash cri­sis,” he said.

“It is a bad deal for the Mo­ray tax­payer – though good for the peo­ple of El­gin. Yet again the tax­pay­ers of Mo­ray have been taken for a ride by the coun­cil.

“It is very re­gret­table that my col­leagues voted for this but I pay tribute to the other coun­cil­lors who sup­ported me.

“Given the Mo­ray Coun­cil’s dire fi­nan­cial po­si­tion due to SNP govern­ment im­posed cuts, I am greatly con­cerned that other Mo­ray swim­ming pools will now be un­der threat of clo­sure to pay for this.

“I will en­deav­our to do what I can to pre­vent this and se­cure the swim­ming pool in Keith and those else­where.”

Mo­ray Leisure Cen­tre of­fers an ice rink, swim­ming pool and gym and the coun­cil said its fa­cil­i­ties could not eas­ily be repli­cated else­where in the re­gion.

The new lease – which can be re­newed on a rolling ba­sis each month – is de­signed to sup­port HHL’s four-year plan to get the cen­tre back on its feet.

“Yet again the tax­pay­ers of Mo­ray have been taken for a ride”

STRUG­GLING: The coun­cil voted for a res­cue pack­age for Mo­ray Leisure Cen­tre but some feel it has be­come a ‘bot­tom­less pit’

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