THE fight to save Selkirk’s swimming pool and fitness centre from closure was joined in earnest on Tuesday night when around 250 townsfolk attended a public meeting in the Victoria Halls.
And that twice-postponed gathering gave a clear mandate to a small action committee to open urgent negotiations with both Scottish Borders Council, which owns the Buccleuch Road facilities, and the Borders Sport and Leisure Trust (BSLT), which runs it.
Although the latter’s ability to manage and market the pool was repeatedly called into question, there was general acceptance that the status quo was not an option.
But when Councillor Kenneth Gunn, who chaired the meeting, posed the question, “Do we want the pool to carry on?”, the answer was a resounding “yes”.
A petition supporting retention, currently available in local shops, has already amassed more than 600 signatures, but the new committee is keen to stress that individuals should also take the time to write to SBC which has extended its consultation period until January 31.
That consultation relates to the £30,000 report into sport and leisure facilities across the Borders, commissioned by SBC and carried out by Kit Campbell Associates.
That report recommends that the council “needs to consider closing the Selkirk pool” and also cast doubts on the future of swimming provision in Hawick and Jedburgh.
“The overwhelming view of the meeting was that this report is deeply flawed,” said Mr Gunn.
“It seems focused not only on saving the council money, but on promoting centralised facilities for elite athletes.
“But you cannot have elite sportspeople without the opportunities for participation at grass roots level and the pool in Selkirk plays a huge role in this, as well as promoting fitness and social cohesion.
“All the many and varied user groups were represented on Tuesday and conveyed a mood of pragmatic determination that this last great legacy of our old town council must not be sacrificed.
“For so many people to turn out on a cold night to back the campaign was absolutely brilliant. We all know we face a stern challenge, but we equally know we are up for the fight.”
Souters united – page 8