Hallglen Sports Centre just days away from closure

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A defiant group is doing all it can to keep a community sports hall open for future generations despite it being given just days until the axe falls on it for good.

The people trying to save Hallglen Sports Centre believe it has been deliberately run down and not properly maintained by its owners Falkirk Council and its operators Falkirk Community Trust because the plan all along was to close it down.

The trust stated Falkirk Council will consider a report at their executive meeting on October 8 and is expected to recommend a way forward for Hallglen Sports Centre, which requires £600,000 worth of work to be carried out.

Members of the Hallglen Community Hub Working Group, formed last October, told The Falkirk Herald about their hopes for the hall.

Secretary Margaret Gardner, chairperson Fiona Harris and treasurer Susan Ferguson have been working hard to come up with a plan for the premises so they can go down the community asset transfer route and take over the running of it.

However, they say the cost of maintenance required at the facility, which runs judo, gymnastics and cheerleading classes, is one of the stumbling blocks and they are now running out of time after Falkirk Community Trust place a “final notice” on the door of the hall.

Margaret said: “We want to keep this hall open, but change its focus so it becomes a hub for the whole community. We want to take it further and maybe open a cafe and a play area that can include everyone in the community.”

Fiona added: “We want people to use this from the cradle to the grave – so you have school breakfast clubs before and after school for youngsters and social inclusion events for elderly people, as well as a food bank and Jack and Jill markets.

“We could do so much with this centre. We will do anything we can to keep it open.”

The group believe the Ettrick Dochart hall, in Dochart Place is too small to cope with the groups Hallglen Sports Centre currently caters to and, with new housing being built in the area and an already stretched infrastructure, they believe residents will require some kind of community hall to cater to people’s social and sporting requirements.

A Falkirk Community Trust spokesperson said: “Last year Falkirk Community Trust had been able to continue its operation by the periodic provision of temporary heating blowers in the sports hall, in the absence of any heating to that particular area.

“This resulted in increased running costs and a reduction in income from customers that delivered a relatively poor customer experience. In June the facility’s remaining oil fired boiler system failed, with no prospect of repair.

“The trust consider it inappropriate to operate the facility without heating. As the owners of the facility, Falkirk Council’s Development Services are currently seeking costs for a temporary heating solution, but this may not be affordable.

“The current condition report for the facility suggests costs of over £600,000 are required. Any temporary solution will be difficult for the council to install over the next few weeks in any case, so a closure of the facility is still expected.

“The trust will continue to operate the site until the environmental conditions within the facility dictate otherwise.”