Skip Cottage Curling is beginning to stretch out from its 'summer mode' and into a new season. The plan is to be running at full speed by the end of this month. But more about my future plans in a later post.
What better way to start afresh than with the longest running saga in Scottish Curling, that is, the struggle to build a national curling centre? Progress on the new six sheet rink at Kinross, which will house a National Curling Academy, museum, and Royal Club offices, was held up for many months over issues with the proposed site. One of these days someone must write a complete history of the 'Centre of Excellence' from when the idea was first mooted.
There will be a meeting of members of the Kinross Curling Trust on September 7 at 7.00pm in the Loch Leven Suite, Green Hotel. The purpose of the meeting is to update members before the start of the next season. That should be an interesting evening, I expect.
Although recent news has been positive - the continuing support of the project by the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, and the resolution of the land issues which stood in the way of a build on the Market Park site - the letter sent to members has some ominous content. The Trustees have had a meeting with senior officials from sportscotland. Yes, grant support will be available 'in principle' for the project, but less than had been requested in the application last year. This is not surprising given the current squeeze on public expenditure.
Worryingly, the Kinross Trustees have been made aware of the needs of elite and performance curling, as now determined by sportscotland Institute of Sport, the the budget holder and employer of the coaching staff concerned, will involve less usage of the six sheet facility than predicted. The letter to members says, "This may affect opening times and income. Further discussions are being arranged."
At a meeting on June 29 to discuss these developments "the Trustees concluded that there is a viable business if the capital to construct the facility can be raised. Working groups have been established to review and update all key aspects of the project. The Trust has requested an urgent meeting with Perth and Kinross Council and will be contacting the Minister for Sport and local MSPs. The aim is to present the conclusions of this work to the September meeting."
Yes, the September 7 meeting WILL be an interesting one.
One further point. There is a widely circulating rumour that Chairman of the Kinross Trust, Bob Tait, is set to resign. Not so. Bob says, "I remain committed to my role as Chairman of the Trust for so long as my fellow Trustees and members believe that working together we can advance the project."