Basketball clubs slam hike in hall hire costs

Picture: Michael Gillen
Picture: Michael Gillen
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SCOTTISH basketball chiefs have described Edinburgh council plans to hike up hiring costs for secondary school halls as a “tax on indoor sports”.

The cost to hire a sports hall at Edinburgh schools will increase by 33 per cent for over-18s under the new pricing model, which is due to come into effect on August 1.

On top of this, the capital’s 11 Private-Public Partnership funded schools will charge an additional £35 per hour during “non-core” hours.

Basketball Scotland, the sport’s national governing body, says the move will “hit basketball the hardest” and force community-based clubs to close.

Kevin Pringle, the body’s chief executive officer, said: “The new pricing policy will put access to basketball beyond the means of people who need it most.

“In some cases, the new pricing will lead to membership of clubs significantly decreasing, while a number of clubs may be forced to close down.”

Charges to hire a school facility are revised by Edinburgh Leisure and the Council on an annual basis, with the Council committee deciding on the final levels.

Under the new scaled pricing, the adult price to hire out a sports hall will increase from £30.30 per hour to £40.30. Full synthetic football pitches will also see an increase, from £55.90 to £65.90, while standard match fees will rise from £60 to £70.

City of Edinburgh Council leader, Adam McVey, said: “Edinburgh has a rapidly growing population and we need to do everything we can to expand access to community facilities and invest in sport. Edinburgh Leisure’s new role managing school bookings will help us open up access to these facilities which are underused out of school hours. This does mean price rises for commercial lets, but rates for junior clubs will stay the same.”

But Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative health spokesman, said: “It is completely shocking that Edinburgh Council has made the decision to so significantly increase the cost of hiring sports halls.”

Green councillor Gavin Corbett said: “I’m alarmed at the increased charges that have been highlighted first by West Edinburgh Warriors Club and now by Basketball Scotland.

“I have asked council officers and Edinburgh Leisure to explain the background and, in particular, to explain the apparent massive hike in charges linked to sports halls in PPP schools. We all know how important indoor sport space is in Scotland, especially during the long dark winters.”

Many of Scotland’s most successful basketball clubs are based in Edinburgh including Caledonia Pride, Scotland’s first professional women’s team.

According to Basketball Scotland, Edinburgh clubs using school facilities would need upwards of a 65 per cent increase in annual membership fees.

Garreth Lodge, of City of Edinburgh Basketball Club, said: “Huge hikes in hall prices would have a detrimental effect on our ability as a club, which is led by volunteers.”