Last-ditch bid by bowlers to stop bulldozers

Club secretary Shona Johnstone. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Club secretary Shona Johnstone. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A CITY bowling club has made a last-gasp plea for a reprieve as NHS bosses prepare to send the bulldozers in.

The Tipperlinn Bowling Club, within the grounds of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, is to be demolished to make way for a brain injury unit as part of a major redevelopment of the site, ending more than 50 years of history.

Shocked bowling club members have been told to clear out by December 1. However, today they made a plea for the club to be relocated to another part of the sprawling hospital site – something health board bosses have so far refused.

Club secretary Shona Johnstone said the decision would leave a “gaping hole” in the area, especially given the club is used by a large number of patients.

She believes the move to axe the club is at odds with NHS Lothian’s stated desire to create “therapeutic environments” on the site using green spaces.

“We are already there and providing this,” she said. “The land acreage is massive and the bowling facility takes up less than one per cent of the whole campus area.”

The club – which does not pay rent to the NHS, has operated under a rolling lease, with members maintaining the green and surrounding area.

Club members believe it can remain “a successful and fully-utilised facility” if they are given a chance to stay in their home, which is believed to be worth around £10,000.

As such, community councils and local MSP Jim Eadie have backed calls to save the club ahead of a major public meeting to be held on the issue next week.

However, NHS Lothian has indicated it has no intention of making a u-turn, with sources saying it can’t justify spending public money to relocate what is effectively a pub and green used by large parts of the community.

David Small, NHS Lothian’s chairman of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital project management board, said that during a consultation process patient groups had not expressed a desire to keep the bowling club and that it would remain focused on green space and the therapeutic benefits it could bring.

He added: “The area of land occupied by Tipperlinn Bowling Club has been identified as high priority within phase one of the proposed works and a state-of-the-art national brain injury unit will be built there. We understand this decision is not easy for the members of Tipperlinn Bowling Club to accept but ultimately we must make the most informed choice with regards to providing first-class healthcare facilities for the people of Lothian.”

The public meeting will be held at Morningside United Church on Tuesday at 7.30pm.