Olympic champion curler Eve Muirhead says she’s shocked at plans to shut the Perth ice rink where she began her career.
The council plans to close the Dewars Centre, as well as Perth Leisure Pool and Bell’s Sports Centre, and replace them with one facility.
Scottish Curling says the decision is “cataclysmic” for the sport and that it will explore all options to keep curling in Perth.
Dewars has been at the heart of delivering Scottish curling success for decades, with most national teams coming through the centre.
Perth-born Muirhead, who first took to the ice at the Dewars Centre as a child, says the rink played a significant role in her career.
She is one of a chorus of people who say axing the facility could dent Scotland’s future success in the sport.
Vincent Bryson, CEO of Scottish Curling, told STV News that all options would be explored to keep the sport in Perth, including running rinks itself.
He said: “We would want to go on a journey to explore whether we could build a financial and operating model that we could justify, and say ‘this might be on a bit of a wing and prayer but we are willing to give it a crack and put everything about the sport on the line in order to keep it in Perth and keep it alive’.”
Princess Anne opened Perth Leisure Pool 35 years ago but now it’s also in troubled waters.
Plans to close it have been met with a wave of criticism.
Murdo Fraser, Scottish Conservatives MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife said: “We are talking about not only losing the curling link, which is such a vital national and local resource, but also losing the leisure pool, which is very popular with local families and visitors, so I am calling on the SNP-run council in Perth to think again and not go ahead with these plans and find some way of keeping these facilities for future generations.”
The council say the pool, along with the Dewars and Bell’s sports centres, need £18m spent on repairs and energy efficiency measures.
Instead there are plans to build a new facility that has an eight-lane pool, gym and family play activity. But there will be no leisure pool with flumes, ice rink or indoor bowling.
Steven Young of Perth Indoor Bowling Club said: “It’s predominantly elderly folks. There is a competitive, sporting aspect to it but the primary reason for many of these people coming is the social interaction the social contact and for these people mental health is as important as physical health.
“It would be very sad indeed to lose it.”
The fate of the facilities lies with councillors who meet to discuss the cuts on Monday.
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