Angus and Mearns Matters: Corpse Bride’s field of five-a-side dreams is turning into nightmare

© Paul ReidThe boarded-up Lochside Leisure Centre in Forfar.
The boarded-up Lochside Leisure Centre in Forfar.

I’ve no idea how Helena Bonham Carter spent her Hogmanay.

But it probably wasn’t the runabout riot she had in a Forfar games hall six years ago.

Like anyone possessed of good sense, the tously-haired A-lister and her then long-time film director partner Tim Burton headed for Scotland to see in the New Year in grand style with family friends.

They celebrated the bells in the setting of Cortachy Castle, presumably not too out of puff after a game of five-a-sides in Forfar’s Lochside leisure centre.

Who knows if Harry Potter’s Bellatrix Lestrange sneaked back north last week, but what’s for sure is that there’s no chance the Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning actress was back on the ball at Lochside.

Because it’s coming up for a year since the doors to the centre were closed; and around eight months since the building’s demolition death warrant was signed with a promise the big hammer would swing with all due haste.

Yet still the concrete carbuncle stands proud – and in a condition which could give decades of decent community service according to a local developer given the keys for a recent root around.

While there’s been a fair bit of local unhappiness about the arbitrary decision to demolish Lochside – at a cost of several hundred thousand pounds – and the delay in actually doing it, the one thing there hasn’t been is a plan B to sell the building off.

Given that it’s never actually been offered for sale, some might therefore consider it a little disingenuous for the council to have put out a statement declaring “no bids or offers to purchase the building have been received and we are currently progressing demolition plans”.

Angus Council fingers have been burned before in getting rid of surplus property.

Remember the former Forfar HQ which was going to go cheap into a supermarket builder’s shopping basket before they had to cough up a million quid more on the open market for the site which became home to Asda?

Followed a decade on by the disastrous dalliance with drinks chain J D Wetherspoon whose ambitions for a Forfar town centre superpub went as spectacularly flat as a bad pint.

Could there yet be a Bonham Carter-style movie plot twist in the tale of Lochside?

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