Musselburgh Racecourse workers ‘fearing for livelihoods’

HRH The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh attend two races at Musselburgh Racecourse . Picture; Greg Macvean
HRH The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh attend two races at Musselburgh Racecourse . Picture; Greg Macvean

STAFF at Musselburgh Racecourse admit they are fearing for their livelihoods as they await a decision on its future later this week.

Under fire bosses at the troubled course have been given until Thursday to “demonstrate good governance” by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) or face being shut down after a temporary licence allowing them to stage events expired.

However, full-time and part-time workers say they have been left in the dark over plans for the course and claim as many as 150 jobs, including those of medical and veterinary staff, casual security workers and race officials, could be lost.

Customer service workers, caterers and stable crews are also among casual or freelance staff set to lose out, while up to 15 full-time employees are also said to be at risk.

Harriet Graham, clerk of the course at Musselburgh since 2010, said employees had been the subject of “shabby” treatment by bosses and called for clarity over the future of part-time staff.

“None of us have heard from our newly appointed chairman or been given any reassurances or indication how our livelihoods are going to be affected over the next few meetings,” she revealed.

“For freelance workers, Musselburgh was a guaranteed payday for 27 days out of the year, now we don’t have that.

“If the July 14 meeting doesn’t go ahead, then we all lose out on that payday and some people are relying on that to pay the bills, to put food on the table.

“I work for Musselburgh and Perth, which only runs 16 race days throughout the year, so I need to know if that’s all I’m getting paid for now.

“We just want a little bit more clarity, because it does feel like we’re being ignored,” she said.

Staff initially threatened strike action against the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee in April after passing two votes of no confidence in its leadership.

MJRC chair, councillor Willie Innes, said he was “determined” to secure the future of the course this week.

He said: “The racecourse is a tremendous asset to the county which, having received significant investment from East Lothian Council over the years, is a highly-regarded and popular facility, which attracts race-goers from far and wide.

“It also benefits from a committed, hard-working and knowledgeable workforce, who deserve certainty and stability.

“We need to ensure that the outcome is one which enables the continuation of a successful racecourse, harnessing both democratic accountability and horse-racing expertise, in the best interests of local people – who have the biggest stake in the facility.

“I am very open to views on the future of the racecourse, in terms of ensuring we continue to operate a successful facility and are able to maximise its value to East Lothian.”