Against the wishes of the local community, councillors will next week be urged to back recommendations that Bonnyrigg Leisure Centre be demolished.
Earmarked for ‘disposal’ by the council, the building at King George V Park has been at the centre of a tug of war between rival campaign groups fighting to take ownership of it.
Bonnyrigg Centre Trust is keen to reopen the premises as a community hub and play centre, while Midlothian Fitness Academy plans to open a sports and leisure facility. Within the second bid is a proposal to use the rear hall as a soft play facility.
Both parties have presented a business case to Midlothian Council and a final decision will be made by the Full Council at a meeting in Dalkeith next Tuesday.
However to the shock of campaigners, a report, written by an ‘assessment panel’ of council officials, is recommending that elected members vote in favour of demolishing the building.
Reacting to news of the report, Trust member Darius Namdaran said: “I don’t think the council realises how passionate families are about the re-use of this building. We are trying to stop them from making a catastrophic mistake.”
Businessman behind the fitness academy plan Mark Perfect said it would be “a travesty for Midlothian” if the building were to be demolished.
Local Green Councillor Ian Baxter also commented: “I am shocked by the officers’ recommendations. It praises the Bonnyrigg Centre Trust’s focus on helping to achieve many of the council’s ‘early years’ objectives, as well as employment, training objectives and supporting positive destinations. It also recognises the huge support in the community for the business plan. Yet the recommendation is based solely on a concern that the estimate of income may be too high.
“Instead of spending tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money reducing a perfectly good building to rubble, it should be working with the community to make sure this plan works. There is no evidence in the report that it is at all interested in working with the community. This is a classic case of a silo mentality being adopted within the council and all considerations apart from the minimal financial risk to the council have been totally ignored.”