Aberdeen facilities on the line if ‘catastrophic’ budget cuts are made

Aberdeen Sports Village

SWIMMING Pools could be drained or sports halls boarded up if a “catastrophic” budget cut is approved, Aberdeen councillors are being warned.

They will meet on Wednesday to agree next year’s spending plan.

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And new Sport Aberdeen chief executive Keith Heslop has shared the reality of the proposals with The Press and Journal.

City accountants are pressing for a 25% cut to his charity’s funding from April as they look to close a £25.3m budget black hole.

They are also considering taking a quarter off funding for Aberdeen Performing Arts and Aberdeen Sports Village, in a move that would reduce Sport Aberdeen’s 2023 £4.515m funding down to £3.386m.

As well as operating the city’s public sports facilities, the charity also provides support for the elderly, children in care and groups affected by poverty – all targeted support which eases the strain on social work, the NHS and other public services.

It was last April that Sport Aberdeen was forced to close the Beach Leisure Centre and Bucksburn swimming pool, although a community court challenge has since forced councillors to backtrack on the Bucksburn closure – though it remains unclear when it will reopen.

That storm was the result of a budget reduction of only 13%, equating to £687,000, for 2023-24.

Sport Aberdeen chief executive Keith Heslop has commented that £4.06m would have allowed Sport Aberdeen to keep all its facilities and services running.

He said: “We recognise that many local authorities are facing financial challenges and it is important that we play our part in supporting Aberdeen City Council.

“Work is already well under way within Sport Aberdeen to identify ways in which we will operate under a 10% reduction in funding from the local authority over the next financial year without closing venues and while continuing to offer a broad range of programmes and services.

“A 25% reduction in our local authority funding would be catastrophic.

“It is vital that we continue to offer essential and affordable access to a wide range of health, wellbeing and physical activities for the people of Aberdeen.”

Council finance convener Alex McLellan ruled out a 25% cut.

The SNP councillor said: “I am aware of the consequences that a 25% reduction would have on their offering around the city.

“Our partnership value Sport Aberdeen and certainly would not be looking to reduce their funding to that sort of catastrophic level in one go.”

He also confirmed that the £1m needed to upgrade Bucksburn pool for reopening is included in his spending plans, adding:

“I hope highlights our commitment to Sport Aberdeen moving forward.”

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