Aberdeen sports facilities face an ‘existential threat’

24/07/2023
The beach leisure centre boarded up ahead of demolition

SPORTS facilities face an existential threat in Aberdeen, a charity boss has warned.

Alistair Robertson is now making an impassioned plea for help to survive.

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He is urging the public to back the city’s leisure operator in an ongoing poll ahead of next year’s council budget.

As managing director of Sport Aberdeen, the Press & Journal says he bore the brunt of fury earlier this year as the doors of Bucksburn swimming pool and the entire Beach Leisure Centre closed for good.

And there is danger of more cuts ahead.

Tens of millions of pounds more will have to be cut from Aberdeen City Council’s spending come next March’s budget meeting.

Public outrage

But, after the public outrage at library and pool closures, local authority bosses are working to better understand what the public expects.

Mr Robertson is driven to ensure his remaining 30 venues are spared next time.

The first step in that process, he says, is public support for the arts, culture and sport.

A council consultation is ongoing, offering the chance for people to influence decisions down the line.

Participants have to allocate 100 points in the online form, across more than a dozen areas of council work.

It’s a chance for the public to show what they value most.

A second, more detailed consultation will follow. But a flavour of public feeling will be put to councillors next month.

Mr Robertson is urging everyone in the city to allocate the maximum 25 points to help protect Sport Aberdeen from the axe come budget time.

He told The P&J: “Sport Aberdeen does far more than perhaps is appreciated and we want to be around for many years to come, continuing our mission to create opportunities, inspire people and change lives through all that we do.

“Of course, I am biased, but the provision of quality sport and leisure services should be a fundamental part of any local authority’s offer.

“However, pressures on public-sector finance are making that increasingly difficult to sustain.

“Leisure is a non-statutory council function. So we always have to shout louder and fight for a share of what is an ever-decreasing level of funding. This is one of those times.”

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