Athletics stadium that honed Scottish champions faces closure

Grangemouth among 100 facilities council says it can no longer afford to run.

More than 100 facilities owned by Falkirk Council are set to close or be transferred into the hands of local communities.

Grangemouth Stadium – which hosted races featuring Scottish Commonwealth Games medallists – and Polmont Ski Centre are just two of the bigger venues earmarked for closure.

Falkirk Council said it owns too many buildings in a poor state and needs to get rid of them to save money and make other properties more energy efficient.

Some local communities have been left distraught and have started petitions in an attempt save the facilities.

More than 2,000 people have signed one in a bid to protect Polmont Ski Centre.

Karolina Surmacz, a mother of two, said: “There’s a lot of deprived areas in Falkirk and denying these children the opportunity to try something they might love is just devastating.

“We spend every Saturday at the ski slope. It’s a great way for kids to stay active and be outdoors. My children love it.”

Paul Stark, director of Snowsport Scotland, added: “We understand there is a lot of pressure on the council budgets, but this is a unique facility.

“Places like this are going to be ever more important due to climate change too.”

There are 133 facilities affected in total – and all of the district’s sports pavilions and community centres are at risk.

Councillor Claire Mackie-Brown, who represents the Upper Braes Ward, told STV News she was concerned for the families living in rural wards.

She said: “There’s no great public transport. The people really depend on these facilities for activities for their kids and for all ages.

“If all these facilities close down, what are people going to do? We need facilities where people can go to exercise, socialise and be involved in activities. These are buildings that have been part of people’s lives for generations.”

In reaction to Falkirk Council suggesting that some communities take over the buildings, she added: “It’s a big responsibility for the community to take on these buildings.

“It’s important those who do want to take them on are clear on what’s involved.”

Scottish Athletics and other sporting bodies have expressed their concerns over the planned closure of Grangemouth Stadium.

David Ovens, chair of Scottish Athletics, said: “We understand the pressures the local authorities are under but, from an athletics perspective, Grangemouth is a very important facility.

“It’s the home of our national championships every year. Look at the successes that Scottish athletes had at the Commonwealth Games – the likes of Laura Muir, Eilish McColgan, Jake Wightman are household names now.

“These are individuals that would have come through the ranks and raced at Grangemouth, year in year out.”

Falkirk Council said it could no longer afford to support venues which were becoming increasingly expensive to run.

A spokesperson said: “We recognise the value that some communities place on these facilities, but we simply no longer have the budgets to continue to subsidise these as we are risking cutting more essential frontline services that support the most vulnerable in local communities.

“Community Asset Transfer allows communities to come together and take over such facilities, to run them in the way they wish and give them options in how they develop.

“We have had a significant number of enquiries as the result of the recent review, and we have already dedicated a fund of £6m to help communities with the practical aspects of the transfers.”

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