Save Meadowbank (Velodrome)
Posted by chdot on May 19, 2007
The Save Meadowbank Campaign (SMC) was formed in February 2007 by “concerned local residents and sports groups” to try to prevent the demolition of the stadium (used in two Commonwealth Games) and its replacement by housing and a ‘less suitable’ sports complex at Sighthill. (The Council is seeking comments – reply by the 24th of May).
The SMC has posted a report drawing attention to a letter in the Evening News on the future of the Velodrome at Meadowbank.
As letter writer Peter Tuck says – “its only fault is that it does not have a roof.” Councils in Edinburgh have proposed roofing the cycle racing track several times. Detailed plans have been drawn up and shelved.
Medal winner and record breaker Chris Hoy learned his ‘trade’ on the boards at Meadowbank. It seems likely that he would still be based in the City if Edinburgh had had an all-weather track. He now does most of his training in Manchester. The Manchester Velodrome isn’t just for elite athletes – “we provide 1 hour track sessions for beginners with all equipment included at reduced rates for School, college and university student groups” – it’s heavily booked. It’s not even just for cycling – “facilities include fully Sprung Sports Courts For Basketball, Netball and Badminton”.
Chris’ father David told the Evening News this week that they are both aware of the value of the help and encouragement given by people at Meadowbank who introduced Chris to the sport and also the importance of having a facility in the city.
David has been battling in recent years for a future for a velodrome in Edinburgh. Cycling may be a ‘minority sport’ but it is one where Britain (and indeed Scotland) is disproportionately successful. Two years ago he gave an ebullient presentation to City of Edinburgh councillors and officials. At the time he was –
“… trying to raise the profile of our project over that of the Commonwealth Pool. Our main argument is that Sports Facilities seem to be falling between all stools. Sport is a devolved matter. The Scottish Exec have indicated that limited funding is available. The Council have said that they want to build it, sportscotland have allocated some grant money. So everyone has done what is expected but no one is actually doing anything other than saying that the Council is likely to allocate all available funding, £33m, to refurbish the Commonwealth Pool despite there being another 8 swimming pools within the city boundary. They say it will save £100k in maintenance so a pay back time of 330 years! Not the best investment they could make.”
Since then, Glasgow has begun building The National Velodrome as part of its bid for the 2014 Games and plans for any velodrome in Edinburgh seem to have evaporated. There were proposals for a new covered velodrome by the Jack Kane Centre in Craigmillar, but even a revised, roofless, concrete bowl option seems to be going nowhere.
Concerns over the sports infrastructure on London Road and wider issues about local swimming pools, sufficient, and suitable, playing fields and football pitches have erupted in Edinburgh recently. This is a rich city in a rich country facing increasing problems such as obesity and insufficient physical activity generally.
Sport isn’t ‘the answer’ any more than cycling is the sole solution to all transport problems. However it’s clear that there is scope for more ‘joined-up-thinking’ when it comes to ‘active travel’, Safe Routes to School, walking, cycling, sport, leisure and recreational activities and facilities generally.
in Edinburgh there has been a change in the City Council’s administration. New councillor Deidre Brock is set to become “culture and sport leader“. At the Spokes Election Hustings in March she said that she had ‘no funding promises’ but added “we have to get serious about cycling”. Her SNP colleague Councillor Steve Cardownie is keen on sport and is set to reprise a previous role with responsibility for ‘festivals and special events’.
One certain event (though no date has been set yet) is a civic reception “in honour of Chris Hoy’s recent achievements”. This was agreed by the Council in April, after a motion was put forward by (then) Councillor Billy Fitzpatrick. The subject of the velodrome is bound to come up!