Friday, 20 June 2014

Commonwealth Games athletes head to North Ayrshire

News that Scotland’s ‘track and field’ Commonwealth Games squad are to use a North Ayrshire hotel as their base in the final days before the Glasgow event gets underway next month has been welcomed by local councillors.

However, the fact that the team will travel into neighbouring East Ayrshire to train has raised questions over the lack of top-class athletics facilities in North Ayrshire. The previous Labour administration of North Ayrshire Council, which was voted out of office in 2012, signed a £380m contract in 2006 for the provision of four schools and associated sports facilities, including an athletics track at Laighdykes in Saltcoats. At the time, Labour councillors defended the multi-million-pound cost by arguing that the schools and sports facilities would be “state of the art”.

This week’s news confirms that Scotland’s athletes will stay at the Menzies Hotel in Irvine, but will use the Ayrshire Athletics Arena in Kilmarnock to hone their performance ahead of the games. Last year the3towns revealed North Ayrshire school pupils had been bussed to the Kilmarnock facility for an athletics event: the supposedly “state of the art” athletics track at Laighdykes had not been suitable.

Of the news that our Commonwealth team will be staying in North Ayrshire before relocating to the athletes village in Glasgow, the local Council’s SNP Cabinet Member for Community and Culture, Cllr Alan Hill, said, “We are really looking forward to welcoming the team, and I have no doubt they will receive a great deal of support from our local residents.

“The excitement for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games is really building here in North Ayrshire with the Queen’s Baton Relay arriving just one week ahead of the Games – as anticipation is at fever pitch.”

Cllr Hill said the Council has been working with local community groups and individuals “to make sure the celebrations are to be remembered, and the arrival of the track and field team will certainly add to the excitement.”

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