Meadowbank Stadium (Closure)

Education and Young People, Tourism, Culture and Sport – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 8th March 2007.

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Photo of Mark Ballard Mark Ballard Green 2:15 pm, 8th March 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive what impact closure of the former Commonwealth games stadium at Meadowbank in Edinburgh would have on the provision of athletics facilities in east central Scotland. (S2O-12318)

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

The City of Edinburgh Council published a draft development brief for public consultation in December 2006. The brief set out the council's intentions for the Meadowbank site. Comments are sought by 30 March. The decision to replace Meadowbank sports centre with a new facility at Sighthill was taken by the City of Edinburgh Council. Sportscotland will continue to work with the City of Edinburgh Council on its sports facilities strategy.

Photo of Mark Ballard Mark Ballard Green

Is the minister aware that the current plans for the Sighthill facility have no provision for an area for throws training—an athletics discipline in which many Scots excel, from Olympian Chris Black in the 1970s to current Olympian Shirley Webb? Is she aware that the proposed new stadium at Sighthill is only 2 miles away from the existing track at Saughton enclosure? From east Edinburgh, East Lothian and Midlothian, access to facilities will be severely diminished. Does the minister believe that relying on the sale of existing—albeit neglected and ill-maintained—stadia to fund the building of new stadia is a sustainable policy?

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

The issue of the throws area should be raised in the public consultation, and I have no doubt that the City of Edinburgh Council will reflect on it. However, the situation concerning Meadowbank is not quite as simple as has perhaps been stated. The ultimate situation will depend very much on the decisions that are made by the City of Edinburgh Council following its consultation. I was pleased to note that a key element of the draft development brief is the inclusion of a local sports centre to replace some of the current facilities at Meadowbank, in addition to what is planned for Sighthill. I hope that that reassures the member.

Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative

Is the minister aware that the proposals for Sighthill, which is in my Edinburgh Pentlands constituency, will contribute significantly to the regeneration of that area, in tandem with the recent proposals announced by Napier University? Does she agree that they will, to an extent, offset the failures on the housing front arising from the housing stock transfer ballot, which does not augur well in respect of high-rise housing in the area? Is she further aware that the proposed stadium at Sighthill incorporates a running track and is intended as a dual-purpose stadium for athletes and those who play rugby and soccer?

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

As one would expect, Mr McLetchie makes a good case for his constituency, which shows the complexity of the issues that the City of Edinburgh Council will have to address. However, the project has the potential to have significant regeneration impacts on Sighthill. Cultural and sporting facilities can often have such an effect, and I have encouraged my colleagues across the chamber to take that view. I am particularly aware of the situation in Sighthill, having recently visited the excellent Sighthill library as part of a launch that was organised by bookstart. I was pleased to hear that the plan is that the new stadium should be able to give some focus to what is happening elsewhere in Sighthill.