I agree entirely with Craig Finlay’s concern about the inadequate community facilities in Dalkeith. The loss of the community centre creates a major gap. It had been able to serve a wide range of activities, from the very young to the elderly. It had kitchen opportunities capable of meeting the needs of any catering function. A library was convenient for local residents. It was built after it was recognised that the area needed more than houses.
Midlothian Council argued that the cost to upgrade the building was not economic. But how does one judge the economic aspect against the need to promote social harmony and the welfare of people? The cost to repair and modernise the Dalkeith Community Centre might have seemed excessive but to provide a completely new building with better facilities would have been a great deal higher.
It might have been possible to phase the cost of improvement over a number of years. In any event, it surely was a grossly mistaken decision to demolish the building before alternative facilities had become available. Craig rightly points out that the council was a Labour one.
It should be pointed out that the SNP and the Liberal Democrats were also in favour of the demolition. They also voted for the removal of the Thornybank Day Nursery. The new schools provide recreational opportunities, but they are not seen as part of the Dalkieth community and are restrictive in their use by the local population.
The demolition of the two high schools meant the loss of their community halls. The council voted for a housing association to demolish the Corn Exchange in favour of housing. Only the frontage would have been retained.
I was a member of the Lothian Building Preservation Trust and persuaded members to report the matter to the Secretary of State. Some movement from that direction prompted that association to withdraw from their intention. The council then sold the building to an outside company for a ridiculously low figure.
What should happen now? The substantial increase in houses around the town should be taken into account. There seems to be little interest by the council in meeting an increase in social needs.
What is the latest thinking in the use of the area in Newmills Road where the high school was located? More houses would make the position worse. The area should be considered for a community complex.
Hunt Close, Dalkeith