Concern over future of Mearns centre

Mearns Community Centre in the centre of Laurencekirk.

Mearns Community Centre in the centre of Laurencekirk.

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The community of Laurencekirk wants answers from Aberdeenshire Council about the future of their community centre.

The local authority intend to relocate several community groups to the new Mearns community campus, which is due to open after the summer holidays.

The new campus will be open by August.

The new campus will be open by August.

The Mearns centre is currently home to 15 council groups as well as 12 independent bodies such as the Out of School Club, Girl Guides, and the Ladies Social Club.

These organisations say that the existing community centre is much better suited to their needs, and they want to stay where they are.

The Out of School Club has been a fixture of the Mearns community centre for 15 years.

It provides before and after school care for children, as well as all day during all school holidays with the exception of Christmas.

Manager Helen Reid said: “We run a breakfast club, and then we walk the children to school at the nearby Laurencekirk Primary.

‘‘We pick them up at the end of the school day and walk them back to the community centre.

‘‘If we were moved to the new campus, we would have to get a bus, at considerable extra cost.”

Mrs Reid added that they had been told that they would not have a dedicated room at the new campus.

This would mean that their equipment - including a pool table, television, games, books and artwork - would have nowhere to be stored.

A spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council said it was recognised that there were “logistical issues” with some groups moving to the campus and that negotiations were continuing.