Michael Gove at Moray Leisure Centre
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Michael Gove accepted a long-standing invitation to look around Moray Leisure Centre in Elgin yesterday evening.
The Westminster government minister is in charge of the levelling-up programme whose stated aim is to improve life in other areas of the UK besides the south-east.
Moray Council, last year, put in an unsuccessful bid for £18.2million from the fund for Elgin town centre.
By inviting Mr Gove, the hope is he might be persuaded to look favourably on Moray in this year's round of funding.
During his tour he was told about development plans for the leisure centre which will also cost about £18million.
These plans include extending the building out at the back, creating a larger café as well as two new fitness studios, improving the ice rink and modernising the reception.
After being shown around, Mr Gove said: "It's one of the busiest sports centres in the country, and I've been very impressed by what I've been told.
"All the bids for funding have to judged objectively when the time comes to make a decision."
The local authority agreed at a private meeting last month to invest £2million from its own coffers on the leisure centre, as well as to hand over a £4million loan.
Moray councillor Marc Macrae (Fochabers/Lhanbryde, Conservative), one of the leisure centre's trustees, expressed the hope that such a show of confidence would encourage other investors to become involved.
Mr Gove also went to Nigg yesterday to check its progress in becoming a Green Freeport, as well as Macduff Aquarium, which is receiving £5.7million of levelling-up cash.