Hands off The Gytes

Published: 18 Feb 2011 09:301 comment

BORDERS sporting chiefs have been warned to keep their hands off the Gytes.

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Dozens of sporting venues across the region are under threat following a controversial report published at the end of last year.

At a heated meeting in Peebles this week, the report's authors and council bosses were warned not to consider the Peebles facility amongst its closure list.

A host of sporting bodies in the town expressed concern.

Despite reassurances from councillors that the centre remains safe, during the meeting held in the Drill Hall on Wednesday night, representatives from several clubs turned up to air their views about the consultation document produced by Kit Campbell Associates.

The report contains the worrying line that Scottish Borders Council 'needs to avoid unnecessary duplication of facilities at Peebles High School and the Gytes Leisure Centre' which locals feel may result in the Gytes being downsized or scrapped altogether.

John Swanson, of Peebles Rugby Club, said the pitch at the Gytes is vital to the future of his team.

He said: "Although we were being told at the meeting that the Gytes is safe for now, that's not how the consultation report reads.

"The report advocates the introduction of artificial pitches across the region, but each sport requires a different type of pitch so I don't see how that would work.

"Along with all rugby clubs, we need to be able to train on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and if we are sharing an artificial pitch with other clubs from across the region that won't be possible.

"Even after the meeting I feel there are still a lot of questions left unanswered."

And Linda Nicholson, who coaches the Peebles netball team, said the Gytes is the only venue suitable for her 70 players to practice.

"The reason we moved from the high school down to the Gytes was because many of my girls didn't like walking across Victoria Park in the dark to get to training. The Gytes provides a well-lit safe environment that is easy for them to get to and from and is on the bus route.

"Looking at the report it does seem the Gytes is pencilled in for closure. I hope when decisions are being made about the centre vulnerable groups, which include teenage girls, are taken into consideration."

David Pye, Chairman of Peebles Community Council, echoed their sentiments. He added: "There is an element of uncertainty about the future of Gytes and the main message is to make sure people write to the council and let them know how important the facility is to the town."

However, Graham Garvie, Executive Member for Culture, Sport & Community Learning, has tried to quell fears that the Gytes is under any immediate risk of closure.

He told the Peeblesshire News: "There was a good exchange of views at the meeting on Wednesday and I would like to offer a categorical assurance that the Gytes is under no immediate threat of closure."

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