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Councillor resurrects sports plan

By Caroline McMorran

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A Sutherland councillor is determined to resurrect plans for a sports centre at Dornoch, albeit on a much smaller scale than previously proposed.

A sports facility for the town was first suggested more than two decades ago and various plans have been mooted since then.

By 2017 a proposal for a £3.5 million centre next to Dornoch Academy, was well advanced with the local authority already having spent some £287,000to bring it to the shovel-ready stage.

But on the brink of construction, the development became a casualty of Highland Council cuts - with the greater part ofcapital funding available going to a programme of new school builds in Inverness.

The decision enraged East Sutherland and Edderton representative Cllr Jim McGillivray, who at the time resigned from the ruling administration in protest. and launched a campaign ‘6% for Sutherland’ in a bid to wrest an equal share of the capital budget for the county.

He is now working on a project for a £300,000 sports shed big enough for a minimum of two badminton courts on an astroturf base.

He said: “My framework is an asset transfer of the existing site for the proposed but deleted sports centre to a community body and the construction of a community sports shed.

“The problem with a council project is that it grows arms and legs and costs balloon, whereas a community initiative can be more streamlined.”

Cllr McGillivray would look to the UK replacement for Leader for funding.

He added: “Children in the Dornoch associated school group area are being severely under supported in pursuing sporting activity.

“If the council administration will not help in any way, as they have made only too plain, then maybe it’s up to the community to step forward with a simpler, more rustic but much less expensive solution. That was the original intention before the council wasted our time for the last five years or more. Highland Council is becoming increasingly irrelevant to Sutherland.”

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