Local MP Drew Hendry met with Macdonald Hotels and Resorts Chairman Donald Macdonald over the weekend in a bid to broker new talks on Aviemore swimming pool facilities.
The meeting follows the breakdown of previous negotiations between the Highland Council and Macdonald Hotels and Resorts over the use of the Aviemore Resort’s pool by Highlife Highland members. The deadlock has resulted in the pool being closed to locals, apart from local schools, with many fearing they could now lose access to the resort site on a permanent basis.
A petition set up by local campaigners urging the Highland Council to save the service has already garnered over 1,000 signatures.
Mr Hendry attended the local campaign meeting last week and committed to supporting the community in their efforts to retain the swimming pool access.
The local MP hopes fresh talks will resolve the current impasse between Highland Region and Macdonald Hotels and Resorts.
Following his meeting with Mr Macdonald, the local MP said:
“Having met with local residents and Save Our Swimming campaigners, it is clear the community is devastated at the thought of losing out on use of the resort’s pool facilities. With the nearest pool 15 miles away in Grantown on Spey, there are simply no reasonable alternatives for most people.
“At our meeting, Mr Macdonald was as keen as I was that the facility remained available to local residents but he emphasised that any agreement has to make financial sense and take into account the additional costs the resort has had to meet.
“Macdonald Resorts are a big part of the offering in Aviemore and the fact that so many members of the public have been able to access their pool over the years has been of enormous benefit to the health and wellbeing of people across Badenoch and Strathspey.
“I was very encouraged by Mr Macdonald’s willingness to re-open talks and to find a solution to restore access to the resort’s swimming pool, although he stressed that there has to be a way found to reach a middle ground.”
“With goodwill from all sides to overcome reasonably minor obstacles, I see no reason why we shouldn’t be able to retain this service for the people of Aviemore and district. It would certainly be some welcome good news for the village given the challenges the community has faced lately.
“Since meeting with Mr Macdonald, I have spoken to Highlife Highland and have offered to host a meeting between both parties, alongside my colleague, Kate Forbes MSP.
“It is hoped that these talks can be scheduled quickly, and that local people once again can get back in the swim of things.”
Mr Macdonald said:
“I am grateful that Drew Hendry has taken the initiative to meet with me and for his common sense attitude which gives me great confidence that we will find a sustainable solution to this unfortunate situation.
“It is in no-one’s interests that local people are unable to enjoy the leisure facilities and we remain keen to reach an agreement which can secure their access for the long-term. We will enter the meeting in a positive frame of mind and hope that we can reach agreement, for everyone’s sake.”