Midlothian hub leisure facilities closures out of council's hands

Midlothian Council has said its hands are tied, after complaints about hub leisure facilities being closed to the public during school hours.

Monday, 25th October 2021, 5:00 pm
Alan McKenzie. pictured outside Newbattle Campus.

Since March 2020 the residents of Midlothian have not been able to access their community centres - Newbattle and Lasswade - during the day.

Day service key worker Aileen Currie looks after Alan Mckenzie from Easthouses, who has cerebral Palsy and in the past has depended on swimming.

She said: “Most of us know that it was unprecedented times at the beginning of the pandemic, and it was right that our school children's education was being prioritised.

"But now, one and half years later, we, the public, are still not able to access our community resources.

"I am personally advocating for Alan, who needs access to swimming pools for physio. We have tried accessing Loanhead Leisure Centre, but the disabled facilities are not really good enough.”

With schools on October holidays last week, daytime access to the leisure facilities was granted at Newbattle and Lasswade centres.

However, with pupils returning this week, people like Alan are again unable to access these vital facilities during a weekday.

Aileen said: “We have been in lots of conversations with pool staff, senior managers and local councillors regarding this matter, but still nobody seems to be able to help us.

"Education is always apparently able to award itself priority. It makes us so angry as staff have informed us that nobody is using the swimming pool at Newbattle during the day.”

A spokesperson for Midlothian Council insisted the local authority has no choice but to close facilities during the day due to the current Covid guidelines.

She said: “The Lasswade and Newbattle leisure facilities are currently operating under enhanced Scottish Government Covid-19 guidance which restricts all non-essential visits to schools. We are still awaiting confirmation from the Scottish Government on the operation of these dual use facilities.

“We’d like to thank residents for their understanding in this matter and apologise for the inconvenience. Once we have permission to re-open fully, we will do as soon as possible.”