A MULTI-MILLION-pound regional sports project for Moray which failed to get off the ground could yet have a lasting legacy for the development of sport locally.
A lack of vision by political leaders at the time put paid to Moray’s desire to build a regional multi-purpose sports facility, insists the man who spearheaded the project.
Drew Baillie admits that it is a source of regret and disappointment that Moray missed out on a £6.5 million state-of-the-art facility that could have boasted a running track, tennis courts, climbing wall, and indoor and outdoor all-surface arenas.
SportScotland had committed £1.2 million to the project, but the row over a single school for Elgin and ultimately financial constraints in local government put paid to the dream.
"Moray could have had a superb sporting academy," he said.
The group have tried to identify alternative proposals which would have allowed some kind of regional sports facility to go ahead, even bolting a revised plan on to the recently completed £30 million Elgin Academy, but the nature of the contract meant that was not possible.
He said that the current state of the local government purse means that a regional facility is unlikely to come to fruition in the near future.
"It is very disappointing, and I would like to thank everybody involved in the sports project team who put so much effort into it, much of it off their own back and on a voluntary basis."
However, Mr Baillie, chairman of the Moray Sports Project, founded in 2003, is hoping that some good can come of its financial legacy.
The 2003 Bell’s Elgin Rotary Marafun raised more than £50,000 to help kick-start the ultimately unsuccessful project.
Both Diageo and Elgin Rotary have now given their blessing to the money being disbursed to local sports clubs with ambitious capital plans to develop their club and sport.
A total of £47,000 remains in the Moray Sports Project kitty following some expenditure on consultants’ fees and initial project costs.
And sports clubs will be invited to bid for grants of up to £10,000 from the fund.
They have until May 31 next year to submit applications, and the successful applicants will be revealed at the end of June.
Elgin solicitor Ian Davidson will chair the applications committee, which also includes representatives of Diageo, Elgin Rotary, sportMoray and ‘The Northern Scot’.
"Over the last 20 years, the lack of good-quality sporting facilities in Moray for dedicated sportsmen and women of all ages has been well documented," said Mr Davidson.
The Moray Sports Projects Fund has been created for local sport, leisure and community groups to bid to for provision of better sporting facilities.
Clubs can apply for grants of up to £10,000, and the committee would like to see them apply for match-funding from other organisations to boost their projects.
Any grant provided would have to be spent within 12 months of the date of the grant being approved.
The types of projects which will be eligible will include:
Improvement of sporting facilities;
Improvement of changing facilities;
Purchase of equipment, and
Purchase of vehicles.
Application forms will be available online after Friday, December 7 at www.elginrotary.co.uk; www.sportmoray.co.uk and www.northern-scot.co.uk
Paper copies will also be available from Ian Davidson, Wink & Mackenzie, Solicitors and Estate Agents, The Old Station, Maisondieu Road, Elgin, and from the offices of ‘The Northern Scot’, 74-76 South Street, Elgin.