No rushed decision on centre

Following representations from members of the public, Mearns Councillor George Carr, has been reasured that no decision has been taken on the future of Laurencekirk Community Centre.

Cllr Carr has spoken to Head of Education, Learning and Leisure Jim Anderson, who confirmed that nothing has been decided on the future of the facility.

“I am pleased that we will not be rushing decisions relating to Council owned buildings in Laurencekirk. There is no doubt that following a new Mearns Academy with community facilities being an integral part of the new build, we will need to assess how best to provide vital Council services in the Laurencekirk area. “The Director has indicated that consulations with users will be vital, and I am keen to ensure that these are as inclusive as possible so all groups have their say. With a new academy around the corner we have an exciting opportunity to provide better facilities in Laurencekirk but we also recognise that the sum allocated by the Scottish Government was disappointing and Aberdeenshire Council has had to divert additional resources to build the core building.

“However, the new Mearns Academy is still at the design stage and discussions are ongoing with local stakeholders on how we get the best value on the specification. Future development in the area will also generate additional funding which may well see additional facilities being included at the Academy which again will create new opportunities.

“Almost 1000 users a week make use of the Community Centre and Laurenckirk is a growing community. We must ensure that any future move will allow that good work to continue without rushing a decision.”

Provost Bill Howatson, another of the Mearns councillors said: “It has always been the intention that community facilities would be included in the new school.

“Officers have been charged with looking at what is in the existing community centre and seeing how that can be accomodated in the new school.

“Formal consultation, particularly with the users will take place. With over 900 visits a week, the community centre is very well used.

“Nothing is cut and dried, but it would be folly if the current council buildings were not examined.

“There will be consultation with the community centre and users, but the priority has to be value for public money and an assessment of the state of the buildings.”

The Provost put the Burgh Buildings, which currently houses the Laurencekirk library in the same category as the community centre, in that its future will also be looked at.

“Things will continue as they are for some time and any talk of closures is premature, but we must take a careful look at the best use of buildings.”