Uniform costs raise eyebrows

Now that the Parliament has gone into recess I’ve time to catch up on a story I commented on for the Evening News.  Edinburgh Leisure, the arms length Council body which delivers sports facilities in Edinburgh, has began advertising a new three year clothing contract.

At a time when local sports facilities are being closed I was surprised to learn that Edinburgh Leisure is spending up to £250,000 on new uniforms.

The decision will be equally surprising to campaigners at the Queensferry Recreation Centre and the Crags Sports Centre which have both been closed in recent times as a result of Council budget cuts to Edinburgh Leisure.

It is, of course, wholly appropriate that Edinburgh Leisure provide its staff with suitable clothing and safety wear to allow them to do their jobs effectively but it strikes me that on this occassion they have got their priorities wrong.  When facilities and people’s jobs are at risk there is surely a case to be made for getting more life out of existing uniforms.

Last year I was involved in campaigns to save the Dalry Swim Centre and the Crags Sports Centre when they were placed at risk by a £347,000 cut in funding from the Council.  While the Dalry Swim Centre remained open, a £2 charge was introduced for young people to go swimming and the Crags was unfortunately closed.

During those campaigns people I spoke to made it clear that sports facilities were at the heart of our communities providing activities for people of all ages and providing young people in particular with something to do.  The Crags Sports Centre was credited with reducing the level of youth antisocial behaviour when it launched classes that helped turn kids away from getting into trouble and criminal activities.   Having lobbied the Council hard to reopen the Crags I was interested to read that the Crags may reopen as a basketball centre.   The proposal awaits a Council decision in August.