AFTER almost a decade slumming it in draughty temporary changing rooms, thanks to an attack by fireraisers, rugby, football and cricket players at a sports ground in the Capital are set to benefit from revamped facilities.
Arboretum Playing Fields in Inverleith, which is used by local clubs and schools, has relied on two small temporary buildings with just six showers – described as “dire” – since the loss of the sports pavilion to fire in 2003.
Now, the city council, which owns the ground, plans to work with the clubs which use the pitches, including Inverleith Rugby Club and Holy Cross Cricket Club, on a plan for new or refurbished changing facilities.
A report is being prepared on various options before being considered by councillors later this year. Among the options is a “possible joint partnership with the adjoining facilities run by Stewart’s Melville College”.
Inverleith councillor Lesley Hinds, who submitted a motion calling for a report on the options at the last Education, Children and Families Committee meeting, said discussions with those who use the playing fields were at an early stage.
A number of options will be considered, such as the possibility of Stewart’s Melville College using the Arboretum Playing Fields in exchange for allowing the clubs to make use of their changing facilities.
Councillor Hinds said: “Stewart’s Melville has pavilions and pitches next to it, so there’s been some discussion with the school to see what we could do together.
“The Portakabins cost the council £10,000 a year to rent and they’re not exactly the best facilities. A few years ago we did upgrade them but they’re not a permanent solution.
“We want to get the best use of the pitches and have the best quality changing facilities, and we want to encourage junior clubs to use the pitches as well so we can encourage these sports at a young age.”
Cllr Hinds said the pitches were also used for sports by pupils at St Thomas of Aquin’s High School and Trinity Academy.
President of Inverleith rugby club, John Ward, said the current changing facilities were “dire” and in need of replacement.
He said: “There have been two Portakabins for the last ten years following a small fire in the pavilion, which was left unrepaired. We need permanent facilities and ones that are big enough.”
In 2003, vandals set fire to the sports pavilion, causing damage costing £120,000. It now stands derelict.
Councillor Hinds’ motion called on the education committee to note the desirability of new or refurbished changing facilities.
Cllr Hinds added: “We can’t continue the way we are at the moment. We need to look to see what we can do with the old building and invest in better changing facilities.”