Concern as Stenhousemuir Sports Centre is earmarked for closure

Falkirk Community Trust is being accused of planning to axe a valuable Stenhousemuir community asset to make way for a 'private gym'.

It's claimed a similar plan to relaunch Hallglen Sports Club was abandoned after pressure from existing users. Now similar arguments are being voiced over Stenhousemuir Sports Club.
It's claimed a similar plan to relaunch Hallglen Sports Club was abandoned after pressure from existing users. Now similar arguments are being voiced over Stenhousemuir Sports Club.

The Trust is also claimed to have failed to carry out any meaningful consultation with users.

It’s claimed Stenhousemuir Sports Centre is being “run down” in preparation for a plan to rebrand the centre as a gymnastics facility.

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The Trust argues at length that this plan is the best way forward for the site, and denies it has stopped taking all bookings after June 30 this year.

Those concerned about what is claimed to be a sham consultation on a scheme for which no information is said to have been provided are said to include include local school users and their parents.

One local man who feels strongly the Trust has got it badly wrong is a regular user of its badminton facilities, retired chartered surveyor Roderick Dow,

Mr Dow said: “This has already been tried at the Hallglen centre, where the idea seems to have been abandoned after it ran into opposition.

“We’re told the Stenhousemuir centre is making losses of £54,000, but that is a management issue - and the Trust seems top heavy with managers.

“Really we’re looking at a plan which involves scrapping the sports centre in order to create a private gym club.

“Even for those who can afford it a gym club is only of use to one limited section of the community.

“It has been very difficult to get answers about this plan and nobody I have spoken to is in favour of what it appears to be trying to achieve.

“Some notices about what they are planning eventually appeared at the club, but that is not ‘a consultation’.

“The plan is directly against the thrust of what the Trust is supposed to be doing for the community, and needs to be looked at in detail - and discussed fully, with everyone who has an interest in it fully and transparently involved.”

Mr Dow has contacted Falkirk Council’s chief executive to air his concerns, and says similar approaches are likely when news of the scheme reaches those likely to be most affected by it.

Falkirk Community Trust rejects Mr Dow’s take on its plans, but meanwhile has made it clear it will not discuss the implications for staff.

A spokesperson said: “With general attendance levels at Stenhousemuir Sports Centre falling over recent years and the realisation that there is currently a great demand for a gymnastics facility in the Falkirk area,

Falkirk Community Trust are currently consulting with Stenhousemuir Sports Centre customers on the potential to convert this facility into a specialist gymnastics facility.

“Such a proposal would transform the facility and would accommodate some local gymnastics clubs, recreational gymnastics classes, mini-gym sessions and local school groups.

“The profile of gymnastics continues to grow with high profile gymnastic events being broadcast on national television, inspiring more young people to try the sport.

“With the Glasgow European Games scheduled to take place in August, following strong performances from Scottish Gymnasts at the recent Commonwealth Games, the time could not be better to consider such a proposal. Scottish Gymnastics has had a 166 per cent increase in its memberships over the last six years and the local Tryst Gymnastics Club have a long waiting list that they are unable to satisfy”.

It concedes its scheme would displace existing customers, who it is asking for “feedback”.

The spokesperson added: “The Trust is confident that alternative facilities can be offered, however acknowledge that customers may not wish to relocate to other facilities and at other possible times from that which they currently use.

“The Trust’s Business Plan, that has already been approved by the council, identified this potential conversion, however the business case will be further discussed with the Trust’s Board at their next meeting, before the proposal is approved”.

Trust general manager Neil Brown said: “The provision of a purpose built gymnastics facility would make a significant contribution in helping to motivate local children and girls in particular, to participate in an activity which they enjoy.

“The development of this facility would help ensure its long term financially sustainability as well as provide a local venue that Falkirk gymnasts could be proud of.

“We are delighted to have had the support of some local gymnastics clubs and our proposal would involve these key clubs as partners, to ensure the success of not only gymnastics in the area, but to improve children’s participation levels”.

The Trust says “further updates will be posted on the Falkirk Community Trust website (falkirkcommunitytrust.org) over the coming weeks”.

On the question of all lets allegedly being turned down - with no explanation offered - the Trust insists: “Long term lets for Stenhousemuir Sports Centre are currently not being considered beyond July, given the potential development of the facility.

“The Trust has been open and transparent about its proposal to develop the facility so the Trust had no wish to mislead customers by agreeing long term lets until the development proposal had been considered.

“Normal bookings will obviously continue for the foreseeable future”.