“WE listened to the people of the Borders, including local sports people, and the direction they wanted to go in.”
That was the comment from Glenn Rodger, Scottish Borders Council’s director of education and lifelong learning, asking councillors at last week’s full meeting of the local authority to approve the redrafted strategy for sports facilities and pitches in the region.
A controversial report by Kit Campbell Associates into local sports facilities, commissioned by the council last year at a cost of some £30,000, had to be extensively redrafted after a huge public outcry over some of its recommendations, such as the possibility of closing some swimming pools.
The key recommendations of the revised strategy – which was unanimously approved – now includes retaining the existing number of swimming pools; producing a long-term plan for pool provision; maximise external funding opportunities; working towards provision of a full-size synthetic turf pitch within each “cluster” area of the Borders; working towards the long-term aspiration of a regional multi-sport complex for the Borders.
Councillors also approved a new physical activity, sport and physical education strategy for the region.
Developed in conjunction with bodies such as NHS Borders, Sport Scotland, local sports councils, Borders College and the Borders Sports and Leisure Trust, its aim is to ensure a co-ordinated framework for the development of physical activity, physical education and sport across the region.
Vice-chairman of the Borders Sports and Leisure Trust, David Ferguson, said the organisation was delighted to see the wider sports strategy for the region – and particularly the facilities strategy – gain unanimous support from the council.
“There has been a lot of work put into this by a wide variety of partners over the past year and more,” he told TheSouthern this week. “After the successful conference in February, this is the next step to the strategic approval of developing sport and healthy living for all ages and all abilities through the next 10 years. However, it now needs the communities from across the Borders to work closely with us to maintain the momentum.”
Mr Ferguson added that, during a visit to the region last week, Sport Scotland chief executive Stewart Harris had pledged his support for the implementation of the strategy.
And Mr Ferguson added: “Scottish Borders Council and the trust – and the other partners – are now working with communities to fine tune the strategy to suit each area.”
Jedburgh Conservative councillor Len Wyse said the redrafting of the facilities strategy proved the importance of getting involved with public consultation procedures.
“If the chance for public consultation comes up, you’ve got to make sure you get your penny’s worth in,” he said.
Galashiels Borders Party member Sandy Aitchison added: “The plan was changed because of public involvement.”