Future of Auchinleck Leisure Centre is settled

After extensive public consultation, the future of Auchinleck Leisure Centre was settled at a meeting of East Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday 14 February 2024, with cross party agreement reached on the final outcome.

Auchinleck swimming pool and games hall will close with immediate effect, with changing facilities being retained to support the use of the synthetic grass pitches on a temporary basis, until Merlin Park has been suitably upgraded as a replacement facility. The Council will invest £1.4m improving the pitch and facilities at Merlin Park.

During the session, councillors received an update on the performance of the facility and results from the recent public consultation. Approximately 2% of the Ballochmyle Ward 7 population responded to the consultation - attracting 279 responses - the majority of which opposed the proposal to close the leisure centre and pitches.

However, Councillors also heard that since 1 December 2023, the condition of the leisure centre has worsened significantly, incurring costs of over £10,000 to address water ingress and roof damage, necessitating the closure of the pool and poolside facilities in recent weeks – adding further to the financial burden of trying to keep an underperforming facility afloat. 

Representatives from Auchinleck community were in attendance  and Carol Robertson and Jean Allerdyce were afforded the opportunity to address Cabinet directly at the start of the session, to once again present their case for keeping the Auchinleck facilities open.

Earlier this week, prior to Cabinet taking place, councillors visited the site in person, to see for themselves the current condition of the facilities. 

Councillor Douglas Reid commented:

“This is a very hard decision for us to make, but members from all parties have agreed the way forward. We recognise that there is an overwhelming public objection to this closure - and we thank everyone involved for taking the time to share their view with us - but at the same time we cannot ignore the financial problems surrounding this facility, which are quite literally staring us in the face.

“Community wellbeing, health and safety, poverty and inclusion all sit at the heart of this decision. Our communities deserve to be able to access facilities that are fit for purpose and in their current state, these facilities are not and in the current financial climate there is no money available to bring them all up to the standard our communities expect.

“However, there are other suitable alternatives within the same locality and we will continue to work with these organisations to ensure people do not miss out on the leisure activities they enjoy.

We hope that over time our residents will appreciate why these difficult decisions had to be made.”

Cabinet ultimately agreed to the following:

  • Close the Auchinleck Leisure Centre Pool and Games Hall with immediate effect;
  • Facilitate temporary access to changing facilities to support continuous use of the synthetic grass pitches within Auchinleck Leisure Centre;
  • Extend the use of the synthetic grass pitches at the Academy site on a temporary basis, until Merlin Park upgrades are complete;
  • Proceed to develop SGP at Merlin Park, investing approximately £1.4m; and
  • Proceed to full demolition of Auchinleck Campus on completion of Merlin Park.

Cabinet Report and consultation responses

Consultation information