Does sports barn have a future?

Children having fun at Birkenshaw Sports Barn last summer, but will the facility exist for much longer?
Children having fun at Birkenshaw Sports Barn last summer, but will the facility exist for much longer?

Thorniewood councillor Bob Burrows is to meet with the general manager of NL Leisure to discuss the future of Birkenshaw Sports Barn.

This comes after NLL axed the summer club, which was due to run until August 11, a fortnight early within Birkenshaw Sports Barn claiming a lack of interest.

Councillor Burrows is concerned the small numbers attending was due to difficulties with booking spaces online and asked for feedback from parents on his Facebook page.

He said: “I am extremely disappointed NL Leisure stopped the summer club within Birkenshaw Barn.

“I contacted NLL to ask them to continue with the club until the planned finish date, but was informed they are losing thousands of pounds as there is not enough kids using the service.

“I am told not enough people register their kids through the NLL website. I tried last week and could not see Birkenshaw on the drop down list, the nearest was the Sir Matt Busby Centre in Bellshill.

“I was subsequently told Birkenshaw was taken off the drop down list to ensure there was no misunderstanding that the service was being stopped, however parents have informed me it was never on the drop down list to begin with.”

Several parents responded to Councillor Burrows to say Birkenshaw was never in the drop down menu instead they had to register at another venue such as Bellshill and only then were allowed to select Birkenshaw.

The Times & Speaker asked NLL about the confusion with the booking system, but they failed to provide an answer to this.

A spokesperson said: “Online booking for the summer programme was made available for all venues in North Lanarkshire for the first time this summer.

“People in Birkenshaw were able to book online, instead of coming to the centre, which is only open in the afternoons.

“The summer programme ran in Birkenshaw for four weeks out of the six, but due to lack of number of young people taking part, it had to be cancelled, with provision offered at the Sir Matt Busby Sports Centre which is around two miles away.”

There was also criticism that the club wasn’t well advertised locally so many had no idea it was even running.

With Birkenshaw losing around £1000 a week Councillor Burrows wants to meet with NLL general manager Emma Walker to discuss its future.

He said: “I realise it is a lot of money being lost each week, but NLL have to accept it isn’t just all about money this is about providing a service.

“I’ve been working with Birkenshaw Development Project to come up with plans and funding to improve the facility, but I also want to know what NLL’s long term strategy for it is.”