Kabin members felt “bullied” into vote

The Kabin, in Loanhead.
The Kabin, in Loanhead.

Kabin members say they felt pressurised into choosing the centre’s new landlords after they were told the centre would close if they didn’t.

Last week’s EGM of the Loanhead Community Learning Association, which runs the Kabin, was held to choose between LASC Childcare Services,McSence and Sure Start to take over the Kabin, with 19 of the 21 members voting for LASC – whose CEO is Irene Hogg, manager of the Kabin when it opened in 2010.

It was revealed in August that the purpose-built centre had run out of money – despite running costs for the first five years being covered thanks to £294,000 of a £720,000 lottery grant.

Keiran Harvey (16), whose Youth Radio Network was a tenant at the Kabin from October 2016, is angry that those who voted had their “hands tied” by the current board. He and fellow Kabin members want to see a “fresh new management” in place.

However, Kabin director Colin Beattie MSP explained: “LASC could take over now and guaranteed user groups could stay at the Kabin.

“That was the recommendation of the board and accepted by the members.”

LASC chairman Sue Gibbs added: “The Kabin was once a busy community hub and we plan to make it so again.”

After the EGM Keiran said: “Everyone in that room felt pressurised into voting for LASC. Nobody is happy, but the problem is they don’t want to see it shut down. Our hands are tied, there is nowhere to turn.

“We are not just fighting for Youth Radio Network. There have been people who have lost their jobs.

“I want answers and the people in Loanhead need to stand up for their community and say they don’t want to be bossed about.”

Former Kabin Community Garden project worker Daya Feldwick criticised the suitability of the bids, a lack of information on how the bids will affect the user groups and accused the board of improper conduct by pushing “their friend” as preferred bidder.

While, Kabin member Carol King accused the board of “bullying tactics” at the EGM. She added that she would have preferred McSence to takeover.

Kabin member James King called the EGM vote “invalid” as “members were given 13 not 14 days notice of the meeting as per the Kabin’s constitution”.

The Kabin’s outgoing director Mr Beattie defended the board, saying it was legally bound to keep the facility open and therefore recommended the best option for that outcome. All assets of the Kabin will be transferred from the Loanhead Community Learning Association to LASC Childcare Services.

Mr Beattie revealed the current board would be standing down “within weeks”, adding: “We are legally responsible for ensuring the Kabin is a going concern. Sure Start agreed to let the community use it but only when they were not, and McSence couldn’t take over until Easter.

“The Lottery funding is for until the end of the year, so we only had a small window of opportunity.

“I am delighted that this facility will continue to serve the community with a renewed vigour and new ideas.”

Sue Gibbs continued: “We are delighted to have been selected to further develop the use of this excellent facility for the benefit of people of all ages in Loanhead. We plan to ensure that the Kabin will continue to be used by existing user groups, and promote use of rooms for a wider range of community groups, organisations, classes, workshops and activities.”