John McLellan: Meadowbank plan put in the dock

Work to dismantle Meadowbank Stadium is under way. Picture: Scott Louden
Work to dismantle Meadowbank Stadium is under way. Picture: Scott Louden
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Save Meadowbank campaigners may soon be asked to dig deep if a last-minute plan to derail the building of the replacement sports centre is unsuccessful.

The campaign revealed its alternative plan to refurbish the entire sports centre and rebuild the velodrome for £43 million at a public meeting on Tuesday night, £3m less than the council says it will cost to build the new sports centre alone, which is said to be backed up with extensive background work. Their proposals also include a limited commercial development in one corner of the site and senior council officers present have said they will look at the ideas.

The findings were presented by former SNP MSP and TV presenter Lloyd Quinan (pictured), who also urged supporters to write to Scottish Communities and Local Government Minister Aileen Campbell to demand she take both the planning applications for the sports centre and the surrounding area out of the council’s hands.

READ MORE: Developers to press ahead with £78 million Meadowbank student flat plans

But the meeting was told that should she fail to do so then the next step would be a judicial review, which while expensive Quinan was confident would be won.

As many of the people involved in the campaign were also involved in the campaign to prevent the building of Portobello High School on Portobello Park, in which the action group successfully challenged the council in the Court of Session, they know their way about the system. It cost both sides thousands, but Portobello High now sits proudly on Portobello Park as the council originally envisaged.

Malcolm pitches in with playing fields proposal

Malcolm Robertson is as well-connected a person in Edinburgh as you can hope to find; son of Labour peer Lord George Robertson and his lobbying business is a partnership with top SNP strategist Andrew Wilson. So when he goes public, he must be at an impasse.

He is also a Hutchison Vale FC volunteer, and frustrated youth coaches and parents across the city will have cheered when he used The Times of London to argue for a new way of managing Edinburgh’s sports pitches.

With hundreds of children ferried across the city to get onto pitches which may be miles from home, if available at all, which at other times remain locked up and unused, his suggestion that a network of trusted community groups take over the running of community sports facilities is worthy of scrutiny.

My beef with woolly thinking

Animal rights charity PETA played a blinder with its demand that the Dorset village of Wool changed its name to Vegan Wool. Nothing to do with sheep but an Anglo-Saxon word for water, but it raised the profile of its campaign against the sheep-shearing business and awareness of vegan wool, not made from oil which would probably be worse

Apparently Edinburgh is next, with Fleshmarket Close to become Fluffmarket, Fishmarket Close renamed Kelpmarket and the Cowgate is a gonner if Nutgate is adopted. Morningside’s Cuddy Lane, with its disgraceful inference of animal stupidity, will be Celery Street.

A thoroughly modern Moira?

In the interests of political balance, it would be remiss of me not to mention my colleague Jo Mowat and her much-publicised support for complaints about the noise generated by silent discos. The one on the Lawnmarket during the Fringe did cause a bit of a bottleneck, but noise? Erm, not so sure, Jo, but hey it made national radio. The spirit of that other formidable Tory, the late Blackhall councillor and scourge of the Fringe Moira Knox lives on. And everyone in Edinburgh knew Moira.