Kezia Dugdale demands action on Edinburgh velodrome delays

PLANS: Kezia Dugdale wants to prioritise the velodrome
PLANS: Kezia Dugdale wants to prioritise the velodrome
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LABOUR’S Kezia Dugdale today urged council chiefs to get on and build a promised new velodrome for the Capital after the project was paused.

It is almost a year since councillors agreed to press on with the velodrome, a cycle speedway and synthetic pitches at Hunter’s Hall Park next to the Jack Kane Centre in Craigmillar. Plans for a BMX track were dropped after it failed to win Scottish Government funding.

But the project was then delayed while the council looked again at whether it wanted to proceed with the plans.

Now it says it intends to go ahead with the scheme as agreed but wants further talks with interested parties.

Edinburgh lost its velodrome with the closure of Meadowbank last year.

But cycling campaigners say a new one here is vital to complement the national championship-grade Chris Hoy velodrome in Glasgow.

They say the steeply-banked Glasgow facility is not suitable for youngsters starting out in the sport or for disabled riders.

Lothian MSP Ms Dugdale said: “It’s time to get on with this important project.

“We need to increase the number of people in our city who cycle, and that should include plans for an alternative velodrome.

“The national velodrome is no use to budding or disabled cyclists. It is banked at 45 degrees which means if you don’t go fast enough you will fall off. The Hunter’s Hall proposals are for a velodrome banked at 30 degrees, much more suited to cyclists trying to hone their skills.

“If we build this, Scotland could continue its exceptional legacy of producing world-class cycling stars.”

Cycling campaigner Matthew Jackson, who is track convener of the Edinburgh Road Club, said the Hunter’s Hall velodrome would be unique in Scotland and of enormous benefit, not just to track cyclists but to the wider community by providing a cycling environment accessible to all.

He said: “The proposal is fully funded and delays in its construction have already reached unacceptable levels. We urge the council to begin works as soon as possible.”

Mr Jackson said the Hunter’s Hall velodrome would be built of tarmac, with a 30-degree banking. “This is steep enough to allow the skills related to riding a steeply banked velodrome to be taught but it has no minimum speed.

“Instead of a velodrome usable only by strong and skilled cyclists, Hunter’s Hall would be available to all, young and old alike. It represents the potential for disabled riders, young riders, unconfident riders and people from all walks of life to experience cycle sport in a safe and controlled manner.

“The Hunter’s Hall velodrome isn’t a proposal in isolation. It’s a continuation of the history and heritage of the city that for more than 30 years was one of the cycling capitals of the world.”

The city council said funding of £1.2m for cycling facilities and £800,000 for new 3G pitches at Hunter’s Hall had been set aside and remained in place.

A spokeswoman said it still planned to go ahead with the scheme.

“Design work and a feasibility study were carried out in consultation with the local community, Scottish Cycling and SportScotland. The feedback was that the designs required more time for the scope of the development to be explored, which is why site work is yet to take place.”

Culture convener Donald Wilson added: “Despite the financial constraints, we know Edinburgh is a fantastic sporting city and that we need to invest in our facilities.

“I am determined the proposals for an alternative velodrome, in the absence of a facility at Meadowbank, will continue to be developed.”

He said he wanted to see an accessible, community-use velodrome, suitable for all ages and abilities.