Kelburne Hockey Club’s bid to take over the running of Ralston Community Sports Centre has been turned down by Renfrewshire Council for a second time.
The club launched an appeal after its application for a community asset transfer (CAT) of the facility from OneRen was refused last August on the grounds of “uncertainty of funding” to carry out planned works and “significant” opposition to the plan.
But councillors made a unanimous ruling to uphold the original decision at a crunch meeting on Wednesday afternoon – citing similar concerns which focused on community buy-in and costings associated with ambitious pitch plans.
Kelburne sought £300,000 in council funding as part of its proposals, which was a sticking point for elected members who were unconvinced the cash could be found during a brutal economic environment for local authorities.
However, the thinking behind the club’s project was commended as the decision was revealed at Wednesday’s CAT review sub-committee.
Convener Michelle Campbell said: “The motion I’m putting forward for the sub-committee is to confirm that the original decision to refuse the asset transfer should be the option that we go for here.”
She believed the application was “full of drive and positivity” but said she had concerns about its “deliverability”.
“The community buy-in, I feel, isn’t there,” Councillor Campbell added.
“And the costing in particular is of real significant concern to me.”
Councillor Chris Gilmour confirmed he agreed with the reasoning but requested continued dialogue with the club in an effort to ensure it could return to playing hockey in Renfrewshire.
He said: “It’s quite important that that happens.
“I know they’ve been lodging elsewhere for a period of time, however, I have got no dissent whatsoever with your reasoning to refuse, but hopefully we can encourage dialogue and come to a resolution going forward.”
Councillor John McNaughtan said for him it was a “finely balanced” decision, describing some of the proposals as “excellent”.
However, he agreed it should be turned down because of “uncertainty” surrounding finance and local opposition.
Billy Anderson, secretary of Kelburne Hockey Club, said after the meeting: “This is a huge disappointment for us and firmly believe this remains a short-sighted decision by Renfrewshire Council.
“Our proposal for a larger community-based sports centre, including hockey and health and wellbeing, at Ralston is one that would stand the test of time, instead of the current lack of attendance and provision at the centre.
“We have a board meeting next week and will consider the ramifications of this decision and whether or not we take the next procedural step of appealing to Scottish ministers.”
He continued: “Renfrewshire Council are aware of the alternative proposals we delivered for hockey to be managed within the OneRen estate and this, coupled with the CAT decision, is intrinsically linked with the next steps we will discuss in our board meeting.
“The fact that a community-based grassroots hockey club, and the most successful club in Scottish hockey records, cannot be served by suitable facilities in our own county is unthinkable.”
Mr Anderson said he would continue to “work openly” with the council to “improve the situation” for the club and the sport in Renfrewshire.
Allan Thompson, chair of Ralston Community Council, felt the decision of the committee was the “correct thing to do”.
He said: “The community’s stance hasn’t changed from the very beginning of the situation up until now.
“Nobody’s changed their mind. Kelburne haven’t done anything to convince us of their intentions.
“I’m not surprised. I’m pleased because, even though it’s gone the way I think it should have gone, there’s no certainty about these things.
“I think common sense has prevailed.”
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