Net gain as Aquatec gets nod over tennis

Improvements are to be made to Aquatec.
Improvements are to be made to Aquatec.

Cash-strapped leisure bosses have scrapped plans for a covered tennis facility so a facelift for Motherwell’s Aquatec can go ahead.

NL Leisure, which has imposed a pay freeze on staff, says no sports centres will be closed despite a £1 million cut in the fee it gets from North Lanarkshire Council to run facilities.

It will spend at least £100,000 on improvements at the Aquatec pool after deciding not to contribute a similar sum for a tennis canopy at Broadwood in Cumbernauld.

That could be viewed as a slap in the face for NL Leisure’s former chief executive Blane Dodds, an ex-tennis internationalist and now chairman of Tennis Scotland. He quit his NL Leisure post two months ago.

The tennis canopy project would have cost £800,000, with the Lawn Tennis Association and SportScotland also contributing.

Last month sister body Culture NL warned libraries and community centres would close due to budget cuts. But Councillor Barry McCulloch, NL Leisure chairman, said: “There will be no closures of our facilities, no reduction in opening hours and no changes to our fitness timetables.

“We’re spending money to improve some of our facilities and plan to make all these changes with no compulsory redundancies.”

To achieve the aims of its budget NL Leisure will use some of its reserves. It stresses that, despite scrapping the project to cover the Broadwood courts, it remains committed to tennis coaching.

Emma Walker, NL Leisure’s new managing director, said: “Our priority for the next few years is to invest in existing facilities in order to increase revenues through increased participation.

“We must support our core facilities, many of which have maintenance issues which need addressed. This investment must be prioritised over spending on new facilities.”

Sportscotland said the decision not to cover the “good quality” courts was “disappointing” but it recognised NL Leisure faced a “challenging economic climate”.