HILLEND CRISIS: SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT URGED TO STEP IN

Following a meeting today with local campaigners, Scottish Green MSP Robin Harper wrote to Scottish Ministers to request an urgent meeting to discuss the future of Hillend Ski Centre, and to propose that the Scottish Government provides match funding in the short term to keep the Centre open.

Fears were raised last week that Midlothian Council would no longer be able to afford to maintain the centre, which currently operates at a loss of around £500,000 a year.

The centre is considered to be one of the best dry ski slopes in Britain and it is the second longest run in Europe. Around 29 Olympic athletes have trained there, including Alain Baxter, Finlay Mickel and Andy Noble. The ‘Stop Hillend Closure!’ Facebook site now has over 22,000 members, and the founders of the site are urging people today to sign a petition on the Number 10 website.

See pictures of Robin Harper MSP with Lucy Singh and Hannah Daulby, who set up the Facebook group, taken today at Hillend.

Robin Harper MSP said:

“It’s frankly embarrassing that we are having to fight to save one of our premier snow sport resources right in the middle of the Winter Olympics. If we are to produce the next generation of Scottish Winter Olympians, then facilities such as Hillend are absolutely vital.

“I understand that Councils across the country are having a tough time financially, but we cannot lose this incredibly important, and popular, sporting asset. That is why I am writing to Scottish Ministers requesting an urgent meeting, and I will urge them to do everything they can to help secure its future.

“We must recognise the importance of Hillend to Scotland. This is not just a ski centre for Midlothian, or for Midlothian and Edinburgh: it is a national asset, and it is only right that it receives national support.”