CAMPAIGNERS have attacked council chiefs for handing a floor of the new Meadowbank sports centre to leisure staff for offices while cutting back on sports and other facilities.
Edinburgh Leisure, the arms-length company which runs the Capital’s sports centres and swimming pools, will have its headquarters at the new scaled-down Meadowbank – and almost a quarter of the car parking spaces will be reserved for its staff.
The Save Meadowbank campaign claimed the arrangement meant Edinburgh Leisure, currently based in Sighthill, had the most to gain from the downsized centre.
Campaign spokeswoman Linda Furley said: “While over 40 per cent of the existing facilities are due to go, Edinburgh Leisure has negotiated premium office space to benefit itself rather than the wider public it is supposed to serve.
“Millions of pounds of public money is being spent on office space in central Edinburgh for a private company. It is not right for the council to prioritise an arms-length private company at the expense of sports facilities in what is meant to be its showpiece sports centre.”
Council leader Adam McVey claimed that because the new centre was a bespoke design it could cater for the “key needs” of users, clubs and staff through “clever” use of space.
He said: “Given the high ceiling height required for indoor athletics, there will be a mezzanine built between the changing rooms on the ground floor and level one. This area would have limited use for sports given its dimensions, so this is where the Edinburgh Leisure office will be contained.”
Edinburgh Leisure insisted that although the new centre had a smaller footprint there was not a 40 per cent reduction in activity space. A spokeswoman said the offices did not take up a whole floor, or mean a loss of activity space.
She added that since the company has to pay to lease its current offices at Sighthill, the saving from the move to Meadowbank would help pay for the new centre.