Richard Lewis: Sports facilities at new Portobello High are positive sign of things to come

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As of last week, the local Portobello community has been able to experience first-hand the brand new sports facilities on their doorstep at Portobello High School.

The new school building in Portobello Park opened its doors to pupils just last month, replacing the ageing 1960s building on Duddingston Road. It has been built to create a fantastic learning environment for all pupils and the sports facilities are second-to-none. With two 3G sports pitches, a 25 metre pool, a dance studio and games halls, I certainly wish I had such a fantastic and inspiring introduction to sport when I was at school.

The council made a commitment to ensure the local community would have access to the facilities back in 2013 and this commitment still stands. The local community can now access the facilities in the evenings and until 3pm on Saturdays, with Edinburgh Leisure taking over the management.

We have decided to designate Portobello High as one of our community sports hubs, building on the successful community hubs in other parts of the city. The move will ensure local clubs with links to the school receive priority access to the building, providing greater opportunities for young people to get involved in sport, but it will allow members of the public to reap the rewards too.

Community clubs who have already booked to use the facilities on a regular basis include Portobello Amateur Swimming Club, the City of Edinburgh Basketball Club, Portobello Hornets Rugby Club and Hibernian Community Foundation Football Club. This is, of course, a completely new building and a settling-in period will be required, but by working in partnership with clubs we hope to broaden sporting opportunities for the local community. We are also committed to our promise that local residents will be able to book for free the school’s 3G pitches if they are not already in use.

In the New Year, the council will continue working in partnership with Edinburgh Leisure to transfer more of our high school sports facilities. By doing this, the facilities can be better used, which makes this week’s changes at Portobello a positive sign of things to come.

Councillor Richard Lewis is culture and sport convener at Edinburgh City Council