Funding squeeze for Midlothian clubs

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Midlothian Council is looking to increase grant aid to local clubs struggling with last year’s increase in sport and leisure charges.

Corporate resources director John Blair has told councillors he will consult with sports, community art and voluntary organisations about the impact of the price rises.

Last August the council raised sports and leisure charges by 10 per cent. However, the cost of hiring grass and astro pitches, training areas and pavilion committee rooms rose by between 30 and 50 per cent. Tone Zone charges rose by four per cent on April 1.

A recent full council meeting heard that a number of football clubs had complained about the impact of the charges.

Mr Blair said: “Generally sports clubs have been concerned regarding the increased costs not only from the hire of facilities, but also disclosure checks, additional transport costs, and other ancillary costs necessary to operate as a club.

“These clubs are largely operated by volunteers and typically provide activities for the young people of Midlothian.

“Indications are that arts clubs and other voluntary organisations are being impacted by increased costs and the general economic downturn.”

He said he was proposing to increase the grant paid to sports clubs and arts and other groups by 40 per cent if they used Midlothian facilities.