Bonnyrigg Green Councillor Ian Baxter has criticised Midlothian Council’s obsession with demolition as the only solution for the former Bonnyrigg Leisure Centre, as a new proposal to demolish most of the site has emerged which appears to be gaining support amongst some councillors.
Councillor Baxter said, “Of the three formal bids submitted for the building, only the Bonnyrigg Centre Trust appears to me to offer the Bonnyrigg community the full range of facilities it so desperately needs. I have been amazed at the number of people backing the Trust’s bid from right across the community, and I’m greatly impressed at the professionalism and effort which has gone into its Business Plan. However, I’m deeply disappointed that at every turn it seems Midlothian Council has put obstacles in the way of a community buyout. Council officials have refused to work with the Trust through fear of being seen as in some way as partisan and have recommended demolition. SNP councillors are adopting a zero risk approach, blind to the long term benefits to the council and are ignoring the very people who put them into power. I am convinced that Labour councillors are actively working against the Trust by pitching community groups against each other in some kind of turf war. People need to wake up to what’s going on and demand that the council and their councillors start working for them and not for vested interests”.
Referring to the proposal by Bright Sparks to let the back hall from the council and allow demolition of the rest of the building, Councillor Baxter said, “Whilst I very much support the tremendous work Bright Sparks does, demolishing most of the building would be a betrayal of the community’s expectations. I suggested to Bright Sparks that they should be part of the community bid but they have refused. I have previously asked other bidders to be part of a single community bid, and they refused too. Why? Who is telling people that a collaborative approach would not work?”
He added. “Bonnyrigg Leisure Centre has now been lying empty for a year. If the council, local councillors and all community groups had worked together on this from the start, we would have a thriving community hub up and running by now”.