Ski slope saved from slide

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A Donside ski slope is set to remain open after a commitment by the local council.

There were fears that Alford dry ski slope might face closure after Aberdeenshire Council proposed budget cuts to the ski centre but West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine MSP Mike Rumbles says he has received a commitment from the council to keep Alford along with Huntly ski centre, open.

Mr Rumbles wrote to the council earlier this month after being contacted by constituents who had raised concerns about the future of the two centres.

In a reply, Head of Lifelong Learning and Leisure at the council, Rod Stone, has now said: “We are not proposing closure but a transfer of management to a community group.

“The council will keep both centres running until such time as we are able to transfer the management of the facilities.”

Mr Rumbles welcomed the commitment saying: “These are excellent facilities. I am therefore very pleased to have received this commitment from the council to keep both the Huntly and Alford centres open until the management of these facilities can be transferred to a community group.

“This should provide reassurance to anyone who was concerned about the centres’ future.”

A spokesman for Aberdeenshire council had previously stated: “Councillors agreed to review the operation of sport and leisure facilities including the scope to transfer the management of them to community groups when the interim budget was set on November 25. The final budget for 2011/12 will be set on February 10, therefore the future of the funding will also be clearer at that stage.

“We are aware of the importance of the centres and the contribution they make to developing future athletes and are currently seeking alternative providers so the facilities can continue to run. Some interest has already been expressed in community management of ski centres and discussion is still at an early stage but is progressing well.

“We have to take a realistic, balanced approach to funding facilities like this in line with our priorities and that’s why we are encouraging communities to work with us to look at many options for alternative funding and management of community facilities such as ski centres.”

The Alford ski slope is used by the school and the community for ski lessons and parties.

It has also proved a valuable place to train for local ski racing club Gordon Skiers.

Over the years the club has seen various members go on to represent Great Britain at championship events, including the Winter Olympics.

The club trains every Sunday during the autumn at the dry slope in Alford, before moving onto snow at the Lecht during the ski season.

For more information about the Alford facility or the club, contact the chairman of the Gordon Skiers, Dave Tilley, on 01339 882953.