In 2018 Cllr Callum Laidlaw was alerted to issues of children being unable to safely play on the grass pitches in Hunters Hall park, Craigmillar, due to motorbike use that the police were struggling to curtail.
Looking into getting fencing erected, he was informed that there had been money allocated for new 3G astroturf pitches from developer contributions years prior but nothing had happened.
Cllr Laidlaw investigated and found that in 2008 Persimmon homes paid the Council over £800,000 in Section 75 contributions earmarked for pitches. Almost ten years later the money was still sitting in the Council’s bank account. What’s more, if the money was not spent then the developers would be entitled to reclaim it.
After raising the issue at Council, Cllr Laidlaw managed to secure agreement to progress with the pitches and brought together and chaired a number of meetings of key stakeholders including Councillors, council officers, the Jack Kane Centre Management, Edinburgh Leisure and local football club Edina Hibs, to ensure the community and all potential users were fully involved.
After a few false starts, and some sickening vandalism of the building materials around Bonfire Night, the pitches opened at the start of 2020, providing safe all-weather surfaces for sport and recreation.
Callum said: “It’s staggering that money developers contributed to create a community asset over a decade ago sat in the Council’s bank accounts while a whole generation had to use deteriorating and increasingly dangerous grass pitches. Thankfully I was able to change that and support team sport in an area that really needs investment.”