An Angus councillor is demanding a full independent review into the decision-making around the saga which saw the authority defeated in Scotland’s highest court in the battle to save an empty leisure centre.
Forfar Conservative Braden Davy is to launch the call for a detailed investigation stretching back seven years into the steps which led to the demolition plan for Forfar’s Lochside leisure centre and the subsequent Court of Session fight.
The 45-year-old building is now set to be the subject of a public consultation over its future after Inner House judges delivered a majority ruling in favour of two town businessmen who took the council to court after branding the knockdown decision unlawful.
Last month, the council took a private decision not to challenge the ruling in the Supreme Court because of the financial risk to the public purse.
Lochside was shut in 2017 and replaced by state-of-the-art facilities at Forfar Community Campus.
Councillors decided to raze the Forfar Loch country park building after a report said it was sinking, but town developer Mark Guild and hotelier Donald Stewart challenged he decision in an attempt to save it for community use.
Mr Davy will take a motion to a special full council meeting asking authority chief executive Margo Williamson to bring forward a plan with a remit, timescale and cost for an independent external review of all evidence and decisions taken from 2013 around the demolition plan.
He also wants to see a commitment to a full public consultation on the building’s future, and has asked for a tightening up of Council rules around local member consultation on common good buildings or land.
“It’s time to get on with the future of Lochside,” said Mr Davy.
“Creating one of the most expensive patches of grass in Angus, at a cost of almost half a million pounds, was never the right way forward.
“Unfortunately, the feelings of Forfar’s public and councillors went unheeded.
“I was against demolition from the very beginning but was outvoted at the first meeting.
“Local members should have been consulted before this went to full council. All this could have been avoided.”
He added: “I think an investigation into the decision-making process would allow everyone to learn from mistakes and show the public that the council is listening.
“There must also be a full public consultation on where we are now.
“My motion is an opportunity for Angus councillors to come together, commit to respecting the wishes of the Forfar public and find a new, better way forward.”
Since the closure of the centre the authority has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds keeping the building secure, alongside the estimated six-figure costs of fighting the court battle.