South Carrick Community Leisure chairman Andrew Sinclair says he is “more confident” than he was four or five months ago about the prospects of a new leisure facility for the area.
And in a wide-ranging interview with the Gazette, he said he doesn’t regret resigning as chairman for a spell earlier this year and says the group is in talks with a number of funders.
Mr Sinclair said: “I am more confident about getting a facility for the area than I was four or five months ago. The budget is now at £8m rather than the £12m it was set at a year ago, which is more achievable.
“We now have more involvement in the project as well with the leader of South Ayrshire Council on board, a project manager and more involvement from the elected members in the area.
“There is more impetus in the project and, as a board and sub-group, we are trying our hardest to make it happen. All I would ask is to give us some time through to spring next year and then we’ll be in a better position to know how achievable this is.”
Mr Sinclair also said to those wanting to go ahead and build a £4m pool with the council’s share of funding money would find their idea unsustainable.
“Yes, we could build a bog standard pool for £4m but having spent days off, weekends and other holidays visiting similar sites we know they lose up to £350,000 a year.
“If we can have a bog standard pool, why can’t we as an area aim for something bigger and better which can be achieved? Do we not deserve better in this area?
“This facility would have a better chance of breaking even due to a few added things in the building. Let’s get the best for this town for once.”
Mr Sinclair said he has no regrets over his resignation as SCCL chairman earlier in the year and that it actually helped the project.
“I don’t regret that decision and it was the right thing to do at the time. It actually had the desired effect as there was a stalemate in where the project was going when I resigned.
“Now we have a robust design and we’re close to going for planning consent.”
SCCL recently lost out in a £4m funding application to the Scottish government’s Capital Regeneration Fund but Mr Sinclair said that wasn’t the end of the world.
“We now know why we didn’t get funding from that fund. They decided who could best spend all the money given to them in that financial year and quite rightly they felt that we couldn’t do that.
“It’s not the end of the world as that was only another funding source. We are in talks with Sport Scotland, the Big Lottery Fund and the Community Windfarm Benefit Fund.
“When you’re talking to these funders and are looking for big sums of money then you have to go with a robust business plan and a robust design and hopefully in the next six weeks, we can start talking to these funders even more formally.”
Mr Sinclair also thinks that setting the town a target to raise for the Girvan leisure facility would be a good idea.
“We’re keen to go public soon and setting the town a target to raise would mean we would know they are behind us. A realistic target of say £250,000 with banners up at Stumpy Tower and in the Townhouse would give everyone an idea of where we’re going.”
However, Mr Sinclair did admit the project might hit a snag over an issue with VAT.
“If the council procures the building then we don’t have to pay any VAT, but if SCCL procures the building then there would be a VAT bill of £1.6m, which is a main issue. The ideal scenario would be if it was community run and became a community pool but we need to get round the VAT issue and we are seeking legal advice over it.”