CYCLING is an indelible part of the history of Meadowbank thanks to multiple gold medal winner Sir Chris Hoy who started his career there.
And even though the velodrome where he trained has now closed along with the rest of the stadium, a reminder of the area’s sporting culture could soon be installed just across the road.
A consultation is to be launched on plans to spend up to £22,000 on a stainless steel cycling sculpture for the newly widened pavement at the junction of Meadowbank Terrace and London Road.
It would be paid for using a sum of £30,000 of council cash, allocated by the local neighbourhood partnership’s environment forum for “environmental softening improvements”. There could be new planting, benches and railings as well as the sculpture.
Craigentinny/Duddingston Tory councillor John McLellan is not convinced it is the right priority when the council is strapped for cash on all fronts.
He said: “It falls in the ‘nice to have’ category. When you have holes in the roads right next to it, it might be better spending money filling in the potholes rather than sculptures.
“It will be interesting to see what people think, but my instinct is this is not the right time to be spending money on this. That’s not to denigrate the quality of the sculpture itself or to say the council should never spend money on public art, but at this time it might be less of a priority.”
Mr McLellan pointed out the council’s message to the Save Meadowbank campaigners objecting to the reduced facilities at the new centre was that there was no money available.
Linda Furley, of the Save Meadowbank campaign, said she had mixed feelings about the proposal.
“I do really appreciate public art and what it stands for, but at the same time we’re being told there is no money for sport and we have cycle lanes just drawn on the road,” she said. “Maybe it could be used to make some cycle lanes instead of just having a sculpture.”
Alex Staniforth, Green Cllr for Craigentinny/Duddingston, backed the sculpture plan.
He said: “This is a dedicated budget for this sort of thing and I do think that’s important because it’s improving the local area. Art and culture make the area better to live in for everybody.
“I don’t buy this rather presbyterian view that money must be spent only on the essentials and cannot be spent on culture when we are talking about a capital city that is a cultural city and Meadowbank is sometimes neglected in terms of culture.
“People enjoy having sculptures and statues in their area.
“That’s what the money is set aside for. No-one could go into that budget and say ‘we’re going to spend it on the stadium’. It has already been set aside in the budget.”
The ward’s Labour Cllr Joan Griffiths said she understood people’s concerns, but the budget was for enhancing the area. “I’ve had people asking me what we’re going to do about this pavement,” she said. “We need to ask the local community what they want.”