Brechin community hub campaigners say they are down but not out after the knockback of a lease bid for the town’s former leisure centre.
Councillors rejected a Community Asset Transfer request by the Inch Maintenance and Preservation Society (IMPS) after raising concerns about the long-term viability of a plan for the Inch building.
IMPS have successfully taken over the running of the all-weather pitch and toilets at the Inch, with the leisure centre – replaced by Brechin’s £26 million community campus in 2016 – the focus of a project to deliver leisure facilities and community space for people in the east end of Brechin.
However, councillors raised concerns about the short three-year lease sought by the group, which included a possible exit strategy after 18 months.
IMPS trustee Kathy Calderwood also admitted the group could struggle to find a half share of the legal costs for the common good CAT after councillors agreed a 50:50 split for two Forfar groups whose transfer requests were successful.
Brechin and Edzell Independent councillor Bob Myles said: “IMPS has done very good work with the toilets and paddling pool and this is an ambitious project to take over the leisure centre.
“I do wonder with the lack of visible support if it is going to be a viable project and if the costs are just too much in the short term.
“The cricket club has also opened the pavilion and it is proving very popular with groups so in this instance I think it is one step too far to approve the CAT.
“I think they may be taking on more of a burden than a benefit and I wouldn’t be supportive of the common good taking on part of that burden.”
Montrose Independent Mark Salmond added: “It’s a concern that we’re being asked for only a three-year lease, which is a very short lease and external funding is not something you may receive for a short project.”
Arbroath SNP councillor Brenda Durno said: “At the moment the building is a white elephant so I think it’s worth a punt.”
Although councillors unanimously rejected the CAT plan, the IMPS figure said she was “encouraged by positive comments” from elected members.
“We will carry on with the work of maintaining the toilets and the pitch, and the goal of opening the paddling pool next year, while revisiting this proposal and encouraging the community as a whole to come forward with their ideas,” she said.