Scottish Conservatives MSP Russell Findlay and Councillor Neill Graham are urging Renfrewshire Council to ensure an Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) at a park near Gallowhill Community Centre in Paisley remains open for use to the public.
The council have ordered a health and safety inspection which could mean the pitch will be closed off to those who wish to use it.
However, both Russell and Neill say that the SNP-led Renfrewshire Council should be focusing on repairing the pitch which has been allowed to deteriorate into an “appalling” state.
The MSP has launched a campaign to keep it open.
Russell says any closure would be a betrayal of the local community, in particular the young people in the area and called on councillors ‘to demand a fair funding deal from the Scottish Government’ for local authorities like Renfrewshire Council who face a £35million budget shortfall over the next three years.
Two of the area’s SNP councillors have hit back claiming that they’ve already discussed this particular MUGA and park with the relevant Council Officers and Cllr Jim Paterson looks forward to seeing investment in the next phase of the “SNPs ongoing commitment to improving play parks and green spaces”.
Cllr Cathy McEwan said the ‘residents of Gallowhill reject the Conservatives at every election and won’t be fooled by their passing interest’.
Councillor Graham added that he will be making the case for the pitch to stay open “loud and clear” within Renfrewshire Council and that fellow councillors should be recognising what a fantastic community asset it is.
Scottish Conservative West Scotland MSP Russell Findlay said: “The Gallowhill pitch has long been neglected and allowed to fall into serious state of disrepair. But closing it would be a betrayal of the local community, especially young people.
“Children across Scotland have already suffered the impact of lockdown and we should be doing everything possible to encourage them to be active, which helps physical and mental wellbeing.
“We know that Renfrewshire Council has been starved of cash by SNP ministers at Holyrood. But instead of padlocking local facilities, SNP councillors should find some backbone and stand up to their masters in Edinburgh.
“I would urge them to do the right thing and join our campaign to save Gallowhill sports pitch.”
Renfrewshire Conservative group leader councillor Neill Graham added: “Representing a nearby ward, I know how important a facility like Gallowhill is for the community.
“The all-weather sports pitch is a fantastic asset, and it is hugely disappointing it is even being considered for closure by the SNP administration. They have allowed it to deteriorate into an appalling state and that has been completely unacceptable.
“They will hear loud and clear within the council [from] me about the overwhelming case to keep it for the foreseeable future.
“Our young people in particular would be devastated by the gates being shut at Gallowhill and I am determined to stop that from happening.
“I urge other councillors to join myself and Russell Findlay and demand the SNP administration urgently repair this facility.”
Cathy McEwan, an SNP councillor for Renfrew South & Gallowhill, said: “This particular facility has been subjected to several instances of vandalism and was unfortunately unsuccessful in securing investment in the recent #YouDecide funding process. The residents of Gallowhill reject the Conservatives at every election and won’t be fooled by this passing interest from a Councillor and MSP who have done nothing for communities like Gallowhill for generations.
“Meanwhile Streetstuff continue to deliver activities in Gallowhill weekly right at Gallowhill Community Centre. This is an award winning programme delivered for youths in partnership with Renfrewshire Council and St Mirren Football club, if they actually genuinely knew the area they would know this is the case and that there is no neglect of the young residents of Gallowhill.
“I have always and will continue to stand up for the people of Gallowhill.”
Jim Paterson, a second SNP councillor for Renfrew South & Gallowhill, added: “I am pleased to see Russell Findlay MSP showing an interest in Gallowhill for the first time since being elected in 2021. The play park funding which has been used to improve play parks across Renfrewshire and soon to be in Gallowhill has been a cornerstone of the SNP administrations budgets which Mr Findlay’s Conservative colleagues including Councillor Graham have consistently voted against at every opportunity.
“Cllr McEwan and I have already discussed this particular MUGA and park with the relevant Council Officers and look forward to seeing investment in the next phase of the SNPs ongoing commitment to improving play parks and green spaces.”
Headline image: Scottish Conservatives MSP Russell Findlay and Renfrewshire Conservatives group leader Councillor Neill Graham
Photo Credit: Renfrewshire Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party