‘Rugby pitch debate trying our patience’

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Future provision of rugby pitches in Laurencekirk has been called into question amid fears the existing ones at the old academy are to be sold off.

There is no provision at the new Mearns Academy, and the pitches at the old facility are still being used for rugby, archery and cross-country.

The new school was promised as a ‘like for like’ replacement, so residents were alarmed to learn that Aberdeenshire Council’s Policy and Resources Committee have considered options for selling off the land.

Speaking at the Kincardine and Mearns area committee meeting last month, Mearns councillor Jean Dick said that the community of Laurencekirk were “outraged.”

She added: “We agreed at this committee to retain those pitches, but it seems that decision has been overturned by Policy and Resources.

‘‘People in Laurencekirk are absolutely furious about this and rightly so.

“It doesn’t give a good impression of the council listening to the community.”

Fellow councillor George Carr said the matter “raises questions about how we do business in the council.”

Area manager Willie Munro said Councillor Dick had raised a good point, but added: “This highlights a challenge we have, which is a strong desire to work with communities while bearing in mind budget constraints”.

Cllr Bill Howatson declared that no final decision had yet been made on the pitches, and the public will have another chance to have their say.

A council spokesperson said: “We have considered reports on the future disposal of Mearns Academy including the associated pitches. As yet no decision has been taken regarding the future use of the pitches.

‘‘There is some feasibility work in advance which then has to report to committee, which will involve consulting with Sportscotland on the level of playing field provision.