Ellon Meadows makes plea for partnership

Representatives of the Ellon Meadows sports centre have made an impassioned plea to local councillors to let them know what role they expect the centre to play in the area.

The call came as Chairman Jack Nixon and Eddie Graham addressed Councillors on the Formartine Area Committee, which met on Tuesday morning in Ellon’s Kirk Centre.

“We are passionately committed to seeing the Meadows develop”, Mr Nixon told the Ellon Times. “However, it can only happen in partnership between ourselves, the council and the wider community.”

Earlier, Mr Nixon had told councillors that the Meadows had been a considerable success story for Ellon and the surrounding area over the past two decades. With over 100,000 people going through the doors each year, it was, he said, a good reflection on sport in the area.

While the reduction in council grant funding for the centre was something which he said he hoped could be restored in better times, those involved with the centre were “excited” by the possibility of new partnerships as a result of the new Ellon Academy, as well as by the opportunities presented by the forthcoming London Olympics and the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

“Over the last 21 years, we’ve had the luxury of a grant”, said Mr Graham, addressing councillors. Describing the effect of its withdrawal as being “positive”, he said that it had forced the centre to “expand our vision, bring in new partners and look to our membership.”

The centre, he said, had plans to work with the Scottish Rugby Union, Scottish Athletics and the Active Schools programme in order to bring in fresh resources. Private benefactors and businesses had also helped with donations of time, expertise and money.

Citing the success of the recent gym refurbishment which had seen gym membership increase from 58 to 356, he added “We don’t want to maintain the Meadows - we want to expand its capabilities.”

Councillor Gillian Owen, whom Mr Nixon had earlier singled out for praise for her support for the centre, said that the lack of council sporting facilities in the area made partnership working essential. “The Meadows is all we have”, she said, adding “It can thrive with the right backup and support.”