As a thrice-a-week pool user for some time, it disturbs me to read the latest disparagement of Teviotdale Leisure Centre, the trigger for which appears to have been the Hawick News headline concerning the £70,000 loss incurred during July and August. Buried in the article was the comment by management that they had budgeted for a £60,000 loss for the same period, the extra being due to continued good weather, but this fact appears to have been ignored by the critics.
I doubt whether there is a leisure centre with a pool anywhere that operates at a profit, most being dependent on local government subsidies. In this connection it should be noted that in its yearly budget, Scottish Borders Council voted to reduce the subsidy paid to [Borders Sport and Leisure] Trust which manages the centre. Criticism from this quarter should therefore be tempered accordingly.
The 2010 town hall meeting has also been mentioned, but this was a meeting organised by our then councillors, and not attended in an official capacity by any member of the trust. Concerns and criticisms were expressed but did those councillors or critics advise the centre management, and if so what reaction was provoked or monitored?
My own experience of the centre is that it is run by pleasant and competent staff, and is kept in a clean condition fit for purpose. When I swim, there is adequate lane provision for different swim speeds, and while I do not use the other facilities, they seem to be well supported by patrons from a Borders-wide base.
The trust has to maximise its returns, and while I understand the swimming clubs seeking the best for their members, the demand for public swimming time means that compromises need to be found – no easy task for the staff to administer.
For those who criticise and express concerns, the trust provides remedies.
Firstly, it is possible to speak directly to duty staff, but a suggestion box and forms are also available at the centre reception. Secondly, SBC is allocated seats on the trust board and those councillors who serve should represent our views. Finally, members of the public are also entitled to places on the trust Board, and those who have concerns should perhaps submit applications, although unlike writing to the News, putting ‘Name and Address Withheld’ on the form will probably not elicit a reply!
There are new hands at the helm of the centre just now, and some, if not all, of our councillors have been briefed on hopes and aspirations for the future.
Like us all, the centre may not be perfect, but there is a commitment to providing a great asset for Hawick. We should all support that ambition.
Hawick has had to change with the times, and thanks to the commitment of the more far-seeing of our councillors – past and present – we now have an attractive leisure centre, a magnificent cultural and heritage complex, and we are embarking on a massive redevelopment of leisure provision at Wilton Lodge Park.
These are facilities on which the town must capitalise. Let’s take pride in what we’ve got and invite the rest of the world to share in it. DERICK TAIT