With the opening of the new Mearns Academy looming, concerns are being raised over the future of existing community facilities.
Aberdeenshire Council have said that all council run groups and facilities will move to the new community campus when it opens in time for the new school year next August. But there are several other community groups regularly using council-owned buildings such as Mearns Community Centre, for whom the future is now not quite so certain.
The Laurencekirk Development Trust held a meeting with Aberdeenshire Council officials and councillors earlier in the year, where it was proposed that the Mearns Community Centre would come under shared ownership with the local authority and the Trust.
The building is a central hub for several community groups. Trust member Rosemary Reilly said: “There is great concern about what will happen to the groups who meet at the centre, particularly the elderly and the out of school club, who would have difficulty reaching the new school.”
Secretary Peter Reilly added: “A group of elderly village residents meet at the Centre weekly, and the fear is that, rather than start going all the way to the new campus, they may just stop going altogether. These coffee mornings are very important to them, as for some of them it is the only chance they have to socialise.”
The group have been working with Aberdeenshire Council to come up with a solution, and have been told that in order to progress to the next stage, feedback from the wider community is essential.
Council officer Natalie Cooper said: “No formal decision has been made as yet on the future of any council buildings in Laurencekirk, including the community centre, sports centre and burgh buildings. To reach a decision that is best for the community, we need to know what residents think about what is best for Laurencekirk, in the long and short term.”
The Trust members will be going round all of the community groups in Laurencekirk, beginning after the October holidays on October 28, looking for input and inviting any users of these groups to an open meeting at the community centre on Saturday November 23 from 10am-12noon.
Any groups who wish to be included and have not yet been contacted by the Laurencekirk Development Trust, contact Peter Reilly at firstname.lastname@example.org