Girvan to be sports hub for Ayrshire

WHILE a new sport and leisure centre to replace Girvan’s swimming pool is still very much in the early stages, the group tasked with delivering the new centre for Girvan has been busy.

There are now plans for Girvan to be a sports hub for the area and the group have been successful in attracting a cycling event to replace the one lost three years ago.

Chairman of South Carrick Community Leisure, Andrew Sinclair, gave an update to Girvan and district community councillors at a recent meeting.

He was able to tell the meeting that the group’s constitution was now written, its website was due to go ‘live’ and that it had secured funding for sports including volleyball, cycling and tennis, and planned to make the area a sports hub based around the area’s natural assets of the sea, the hills and the beaches.

Mr Sinclair said: “The board now stands at 11 members. We have been working with the council, which has given legal advice, and solicitors who wrote up the constitution. We then looked at it and it then went to senior council officers who looked at it and now we are looking at it again.

“That process has taken the last three months but we can’t do anything until we have that constitution. Fundraising and architects meetings are further down the line. We are to be a Scottish charitable incorporated organisation. The advantages are that we don’t have to conform with the companies act and the board would become trustees instead of directors.

“In the meantime, we have also been meeting and trying to get ourselves seen in the community. We’ve been involved with Girvan Youth Trust with the Gig on the Green and introduced beach volleyball. We put a court on the beach and brought in coaches from Stirling University and that was quite popular.

“We now aim to run coaching sessions for coaches to set up a volleyball club in the town which will lead next year to us having a volleyball tournament in Girvan.

“We have also secured the David Bell memorial cycle race. We know we lost a major event three years ago but we have secured funding to bring this competition to the town. It’s run by the Ayr cycling club road racing team, who hope to have the race upgraded to the same level as the cycling race we had.

“We are also looking to bring other events to the town to give us a sporting calendar through the whole summer.

“We had a meeting with South Ayrshire Council [SAC] to set up a sports hub in the town. Sportscotland have £1 million in funding for sports hubs around Scotland.

“The council want to use Troon as the main sports hub for South Ayrshire but they also want a sports hub in Girvan. They want to use the sea, hills and beach to create something in our area.

“The council are providing the money for the sports hub out of the Girvan regeneration fund of £200,000 per annum and £40,000 will be spent on the sports hub in Girvan.

“The council has also agreed to spend £26,000 from the regeneration fund on a mobile climbing wall, which will be used for fair days, and can go around the villages as well.

“Within the new leisure centre to replace the pool there was to be a climbing wall. There is, though, the question of how it’s going to be run and who is going to set it up.

“There were a lot of questions at the recent meeting with sports clubs over how much further we can take the sports hub idea. For instance, we could join up with Dumfries and Galloway’s network of paths and cycling paths and could use windfarm tracks for mountain biking and improve the roads in the town to have more cycling in the town.

“There are also moves to start a cycling club in Girvan and upgrade the tennis courts which the council is going to spend money on. There is also a big lack of coaches in the area, and we are talking to the council about bringing in more. There are 45 sports clubs in south Carrick and ten turned up at the recent meeting to show an interest.”

Mr Sinclair added that the group has also produced a newsletter and aims to bring it out every three months. “We also aim to have the website up and running very soon – southcarrickcommunityleisure.com – and membership is now 569,” he added.

“Ideally, we want 3000 members and there is going to be a big push as we need 25 per cent of the Carrick community to have an ‘excellent’ rating with the funders.

“We will be on the streets and are doing a bag drop to every school child with membership forms. Full members need to be resident of South Carrick but we also have a ‘friends’ list.

He also added that the ‘charettes’, or design workshops, for the new leisure centre are to take place in February, and that, with the constitution in place, the group would be looking to find funding to match the £4 million already pledged by SAC.

However, there was one cause for concern for community councillors as the new group has not been provided with administrative support by SAC, something which community council chairman Alec Clark said was promised by the council.

Mr Sinclair said: “We don’t get any help from SAC for administration. We asked for administrative support and were told ‘no’ by SAC.

“We have volunteers doing the administration and the minutes were done by board members for the first few meetings. We now have volunteers to do it.”

Mr Clark said: “Administrative support was one of the things that SAC promised as part of the joint partnership with the community. Part of the deal was administrative help to the board. That’s a big thing because the administration is a heavy burden.

“However, South Carrick Community Leisure has the full support of the community council. It’s our duty to fully support it and we will give any help that is needed. We are here to drive the town and district forward and this could be a saving grace for this area. We are here to make things happen together.”

Councillor John McDowall added: “I will take the problems with administration back to senior council officials because that was one of things that was promised by SAC and I thought it was going to be done.”