MacTaggart Leisure Centre on Islay Needs Your Help

Islay & Jura Community Enterprises has prepared a £500,000 grant application for a vital refurbishment programme at the Mactaggart Leisure Centre, and needs your input and letters/e-mails of support

Islay and Jura Community Enterprises (IJCE) is to make an application to the Scottish Rural Development Plan (SRDP) for assistance with a major programme of essential refurbishment of the Mactaggart Leisure Centre. The final application will be submitted on January 29th, but putting this together has been a long process that has taken a year or more to prepare. Many folk have actively participated in the preparation of this, but the Board of IJCE needs one vital final push from the community to support the application. We have to write, or email, or fax our support, and add any new ideas or developments that we would like to see happen at the MLC. The Centre is now nearly 20 years old and while it has been very well maintained, many of the features of the place that we have come to take for granted have simply worn out. The wear and tear of the thousands of happy feet combined with the very high humidity levels that are an inevitable feature of an active swimming pool means that a huge amount of work is required simply to get the place back into the condition it was in when it first opened back in 1991. Continue reading....

In addition to those highlighted, there are myriads of other problems too. The floors are badly worn, the toilets need upgrading, new doors are required and the place is going to need serious re-decoration before long. What ideas do you have for developments at the Centre? Proposals put forward so far include better catering facilities for the Howatt Room, which will involve a new kitchen, and the provision of an external lift so that disabled persons can have access to the first floor. A better ventilation system for the gym is also a priority. The SRDP is possibly the last chance that IJCE will have to apply for this level of public funding for some considerable length of time because, as everyone is aware, we are about to see a real squeeze on public expenditure. The SRDP can allow a maximum of 90% grant assistance towards appropriate community support, and the good news is that IJCE already have match funds available to support the application, which will be a big help. It is up to us to provide as persuasive a case as possible for the pool, as competition for these resources is bound to be intense. There can be very few of us on Islay who have not benefited directly from this most valuable community resource, so please - everybody take a few minutes to write in, fill in a form or email your support and ideas just as soon as possible.

Big Problem - Air Handling Units
Air conditioning in a warm swimming pool hall is a big issue and the units which were intalled back in 1991 have done sterling work keeping pool users comfortable - but they are now sadly reaching the end of their useful life. The motors and fans that operate the machinery are badly corroded and need replaced with more up-to-date variable speed units.

Big Problem - The Roof
The roof of the building was last replaced in 1948, when the idea was to provide a lid for a whisky bond, not a swimming pool. The roofing material used back then was a type of asbestos-based tile which has not proved to have the staying power of traditional slates. Specifically, the tiles are starting to curl and distort, which means leaks. Lots of work has been done to stem the tide, but the time has come to replace the roof.

Big Problem - The Pool Hall Ceiling
The pool hall ceiling is magnificent - a towering arch built of beautiful tongue and grooved timber. It looks the part - but the pool hall is a harsh environment for wood and the original varnish has now almost completely gone. The race is on to re-finish it before it starts to rot. This is a very big job that will require the pool to be emptied, and scaffolding erected so that the ceiling surface can be sanded and then re-varnished.

Everyone in the community is asked to write or e-mail their support for the Leisure Centre’s application either to MLC, School Street, Bowmore PA43 7JS or

This story was published with kind permission of the Ileach local newspaper.

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