Fears over future of holistic centre

Classes at the Salisbury Centre are to stop
Classes at the Salisbury Centre are to stop
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FEARS have been raised over the future of the Capital’s oldest holistic therapy centre, leaving users concerned it will be sold.

Trustees at the Salisbury Centre, set up in 1973, have announced there will be a suspension of classes from July 14 to allow for “an intense review of the options available” amid warnings that the centre’s finances are unsustainable.

Managers at the Salisbury Road centre, which offers classes in activities such as yoga, meditation and pottery, said it “is only just breaking even” and unable to afford the investment needed to maintain services.

The centre is managed by a charitable trust and finances itself through concessionary venue hire and class fees.

Ian Rodger, manager at the Salisbury Centre, said: “It’s a very old and tired building and the work needed would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. As things stand, we can’t afford it.”

Mr Rodger confirmed the current programme of classes would continue until July 14 but did not rule out closure, saying: “No final decision has been taken yet.”

In a letter, trustees said alternative accommodation would be provided at the Abbey Mount Meeting Centre and offered to arrange viewing times.

But the news has stunned users of the centre, who fear the listed Georgian building in which it is housed could now be sold.

Ada Bayliss, 56, who has been going to the centre for 30 years, said: “This thing of suspending classes is definitely a prelude to selling the building.

“The trustees have said it’s an option and if you stop the classes, the sources of revenue are stopped and then the financial position gets so bad that they can justify selling.

“I would be heartbroken if this place closed because there’s nothing like it in Edinburgh.”

John Bald, 66, of Bonnyrigg, who attends and leads classes in Tibetan meditation at the centre, said: “It will be a very sad decision if it closes completely – the place is invaluable for us. It’s difficult to find a space for the classes that’s available at a reasonable price.”

He added: “If they were to begin charging commercial rates for the space then I don’t think we in the Tibetan meditation class could afford to use it.

“The centre welcomes all. It’s one of the few places we can go to although attendance at the classes has been dropping off over the last couple of years.”

But Mr Rodger said various parts of the building were in a dilapidated state and required urgent repair work.

He said: “We need to do work on replacement windows, water tightness, woodwork repairs, access for people with disabilities to comply with new legislation, the electrics and so on.

“The centre will be carrying on with a full programme of classes until mid-July, then the trustees are taking some space to refresh the centre and think about the best way forward.”