Anger over '˜lack of work' at Meadowbank Stadium revamp

One of Scotland's top athletics clubs has hit out in frustration at the lack of work going on at the now vacant Meadowbank Stadium.

Monday, 15th January 2018, 7:36 am
Updated Monday, 15th January 2018, 7:46 am
Meadowbank Stadium. Picture: Jane Barlow

Edinburgh Athletic Club, which nurtured talent such as Olympian Allan Wells and Commonwealth star Lynsey Sharp, has been run out of the sports facility to allow for a £40million refurbishment.

With planning permission expected to be lodged in the next few weeks, club trainers and members have questioned why groups were asked to vacate the premises so early.

“Parents and coaches are concerned that the track will lie empty for at least six months before work starts and when an enquiry was made to have use of the track this was turned down, even though we did not ask for access to the main building,” said Edinburgh Athletic Club vice president Yvonne Jones.

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“We can no longer cater for hammer, discus and javelin due to safety requirements.

“The club had hoped to use the throws area at the old Heriot Watt College grounds but this was turned down by Edinburgh Leisure as it is now used for dog walking.

“The club have to travel outwith Edinburgh to get access to pole vault facilities and indoor high jump.”

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As well as losing some events the club has had to spend more funds to assist members with expenses and extra coach charges adding an estiamted £700 to costs.

Before the stadium closed on December 4, Edinburgh Leisure worked to provide suitable relocation options for over 100 clubs and instructors who used the facilities.

For some, classes have moved to alternative Edinburgh Leisure venues or community schools but for the athletics club it has meant training is now split between eight venues.

Yvonne said: “There are concerns the split-up of members is destroying the community spirit that has existed and is part of the club’s success. Since Meadowbank closed we have lost the services of four coaches with murmurs of a few more talking about giving up due to cost of travel and lack of purpose-built facilities.

“We think that if an arrangement had been organised to allow the club to train on the Meadowbank track until it was required for the refurbishment this would have resolved the majority of problems.”

But council bosses said possible asbestos discovery needed to be factored in to the demolition timetable. A council spokeswoman added: “Considering the age of Meadowbank – which was of course built in the late 1960s for the 1970 Commonwealth Games – the Council’s timetable must also allow room for the possible discovery and removal of asbestos.

“The redevelopment of Meadowbank is a major project and time needs to be set aside to decommission the existing building and grounds, to allow materials to be moved out and surveys to be undertaken.

“These surveys will begin very soon and it is simply not possible from a health and safety perspective for people to be in the building during this time. We appreciate the arrangements involve compromise from all user groups and Edinburgh Leisure and the council have worked with groups to secure alterative accommodation.”