Profit before people at recreation centre?

journal and gazette web graphic
journal and gazette web graphic

CONCERNS a drive for profits is affecting long-standing group bookings at Bo’ness Recreation Centre were highlighted this week.

The plight of an established 
martial arts group and five-a-side football teams were revealed, after they were told to make way for new fitness/dance classes and parties.

However, for Mo’s Muay Thai, there is a happy outcome.

Chief instructor Maurice Tully was on the verge of packing in his popular classes after learning last week that, after 14 years, he had to move from the lesser hall which has been revamped for new Les Mills fitness sessions.

Maurice claimed he was told Falkirk Community Trust had 
financial targets to meet.

He said he’d been telling staff for months an alternative combat zone, set up by the trust in the old garages, was unsuitable for his classes.

‘‘Well over 20’’ students have been attending Tuesday night sessions and Maurice said the new space would only hold about 10, as well as not being adequately 

“I was just going to fold it,” he said. “I wasn’t going to tell 20 kids they couldn’t train and just 10 could. A lot of their mums have spent well over £100 on equipment.”

He added: “I’ve hardly slept at night worrying and thinking about what I would tell the kids.”

After a meeting with centre 
management and Councillor Ann Ritchie on Monday, Maurice and his students will now train in the big hall on Tuesdays, and he has tweaked his Thursday timings to stay in the lesser hall.

Maurice said it shouldn’t have reached that stage, but thanked Councillor Ritchie for her help.

She said: “I’m happy with the outcome. Mo’s Muay Thai and the centre have now come to an 
agreement that suits both parties.”

Councillor Ritchie also raised her concerns about the situation of local five-a-side player Garry Chapman and his nine friends with the result the centre boss will contact him.

They have had the same Friday block booking in the big hall for the past 30 years but were told last week they would have to move for two nights due to parties.

An alternative time, or a suggestion to play outside were deemed unsuitable; the latter ruled out 
given the predicted freezing 

The group, aged up to mid-50s, play twice weekly to keep fit and for the social contact - contributing around £3000 to the centre 

But Garry told the Journal and 
Gazette that when pressed, the 
acting manager appeared to admit money was the bottom line.

They have now had to cancel their two Friday sessions.

Garry said he had successfully campaigned for past council 
improvements to the ‘‘important community facility’’ and that 
current issues appeared to have arisen since the community trust took over its management.

“Is this a true reflection on what the community of Bo’ness can 
expect from this body of unelected members in the running of community resources previously run by Falkirk Council. Profit before needs?”

The trust’s sport and recreation manager Paul Finnie said the creation of the combat zone had been been discussed for several months with a number of groups.

“Full consultation has taken place with these clubs and groups regarding type of matting and the area 
being used,” he said.

“We have received a lot of support and positive comments about our plans to create a specifically 
designed activity space for martial arts and other combat sports.”

He said the whole building was the same temperature.

Mr Finnie added: “The introduction of the Les Mills classes are part of our Circuit Health and Fitness gym class provision and provide more opportunity for our gym members to enjoy group exercise.

“As a busy sports centre we do on occasion have to move activities to accommodate another community booking but we do try to keep this to a minimum.

“Falkirk Community Trust is a not-for-profit organisation and any profits are reinvested to ensure we provide the best service we can to our local communities.”