I am writing to you as I have noticed, from reading your paper, that there appears to be growing concern amongst local residents with regard to Midlothian Council’s misguided plans to close Dalkeith Community Centre.
Despite the council’s bullish statements that the centre must close, I believe that those concerns are well-founded.
It is a disgrace that Midlothian Council plans to rip the heart out of Woodburn by closing the community centre without adequately replacing the facilities that it provides.
Midlothian Against the Cuts has no axe to grind with the Dalkeith Miners’ Welfare Club, but we must question the wisdom of Midlothian Council in deeming it to be a suitable location for our community groups – which cater for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
Initially, the council told a consultation meeting that the centre would be closed and replaced by the refurbishment of the old Thornybank Nursery.
Now that those plans have been abandoned, it has become clear that we were misled during the consultation process.
Midlothian Against the Cuts believes that the initial consultation should be ruled as null and void and, consequently, a new consultation process should be initiated immediately.
Furthermore, when the proposal was scrapped, what has since happened to the money that had been earmarked for the refurbishment of Thornybank?
If that money has been spent, what was it spent on? If it has not been spent, why is it not going to be used to refurbish the community centre?
The people of not only Dalkeith and Woodburn, but the whole of Midlothian, deserve an explanation as to where our money has gone and why the council continues to ignore our wishes by pushing on with their plans to close our community centre, rather than investing in and improving on the existing building.
I would urge people to lobby their local councillor, MP and MSP as a matter of urgency until we are given answers to these hugely important questions.
Midlothian Against the Cuts
Cherry Lane, Mayfield
I am writing to add my support to the comments made by Gregor Hutchison, chairman of Dalkeith Miners Club, in your letters page on May 12 when he defended the club against the negative portrayal in your pages the previous week.
The committee and officials should be congratulated for making the club one of the biggest in Britain, and also for having the vision to take it forward in partnership with the council to provide a community hub offering facilities comparable to those on offer in Loanhead, Addiewell and Coalburn. I should add that I have also visited the Miners Welfare at Blantyre which has raised somewhere in the region of £2 million to develop their community wing.
Anyone who has seen what has been achieved in those areas could only be delighted to have the opportunity of a similar facility in Dalkeith. Our club is already well placed to develop their facilities, not only are the premises already well used by the community, but they raise a great deal of money for charity.
Regarding the letter published on that same page from Frank Williams, I can only invite him to visit the club for himself and see what Dalkeith Miners has to offer the community. Indeed I would be delighted to give him a personal tour of the existing building and explain to him about the proposed extension to allay any unfounded fears that anyone is suggesting a nursery or indeed any community group is to be run from ‘a pub’.
Councillor Alex Bennett
More letters in this week’s Advertiser - on sale now.