Councillors to back pool reprieve

COUNCILLORS will be asked today to back a revised sports strategy which recommends retention of all swimming pools for at least the next 10 years in the Borders.

As revealed in TheSouthern in June, the new strategy contradicts the report by Kit Campbell Associates into all the region’s sport and leisure facilities.

That document claimed that Hawick, Selkirk and Jedburgh swimming pools could be closed to make savings.

But the report provoked anger across the Borders, as pool users argued against any such moves.

Since then, feedback from the public has found the majority favoured local facilities rather than a centralised sports hub in Galashiels, as discussed in Mr Campbell’s paper.

In June, Graham Garvie, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for sport, culture and community learning, said: “The public has spoken and we have listened.

“Among the key proposals will be a plan to retain all swimming pools in the region as part of a strategy taking the region’s sport and leisure through the next decade and beyond.”

The strategy paper, compiled by SBC’s policy and performance officer, Max Arthur, also recommends that the council and its partners should work towards providing a full size synthetic turf pitch in each of the nine secondary school catchment areas.

Mr Arthur adds that SBC should invest £280,000 in each of the next five years to maximise external funding for refurbishment and development of facilities.

The report says: “Scottish Borders is one of the lowest (27 out of 32) spending local authorities on leisure and recreation per resident and therefore must maximise the impact of expenditure and achieve value for money.

“Significant capital is required to sustain the current network of facilities due to the age and condition of the portfolio.”