A GYMNASTICS club which trains more than 100 Helensburgh children says it has been left in dark by council bosses after being told its facility is facing closure.

The West Dunbartonshire Activity Centre in Dumbarton is one of seven community centres which will be closed by West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) or transferred to community ownership in a bid to save £450,000.

The facility is used by West Dunbartonshire Gymnastics Club (WDGC), and has been since 2011.

Club staff and members were told the facility was chosen as it is “under-utilised”, but club development coordinator Luisa McFarlane disagrees.

She told the Advertiser that the club trains 550 students from West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute, with classes running six days per week.

Helensburgh Advertiser: The club trains more than 100 youngsters from HelensburghThe club trains more than 100 youngsters from Helensburgh (Image: West Dunbartonshire Gymnastics Club)

The club also links up with Dunbartonshire Disability Sports Club to offer accessible sessions.

Luisa added: “We have children who do disability gymnastics once a week. They are at a disadvantage to other children who have lots activities they can do.

“For some of them, that’s the only activity they can attend and look forward to. Can you imagine taking that away from them?

READ MORE: Helensburgh parents' fear as gymnastics club centre faces council budget axe

“We also have 30 scholarships for children – they would lose out because their parents simply can’t afford it. There’s also 13 coaches who wouldn’t have a job.”

WDGC had been offered the option of asset transfer in the past, but Luisa said it would be unsustainable based on the current state of the facility.

The club said WDC has failed to take care of the building in the past, despite promising to carry out repairs and improvements to the roof, waiting area, and kitchen.

Luisa also worries that taking the facility on would lead to price increases at an already difficult time for parents.

“We couldn’t afford it. We’re a community club and we couldn’t sustain it. We would have to change massively.

“With the cost-of-living crisis, if we put our prices up, that’s the first thing parents would stop.”

Luisa McFarlane

Luisa received an email from WDC last week, stating that a survey would be carried out across each of the affected centres to determine their next steps.

So far, the only communication the club has had with the council has been via email – including the notice that the site was under threat last month.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Classes run six days per week at the clubClasses run six days per week at the club (Image: West Dunbartonshire Gymnastics Club)

She said: “We’ve agreed that we won’t be replying to them because we think it’s really poor from them that they can’t even have the decency to come and have a chat with us.”

A spokesperson for West Dunbartonshire Council said a £60,000 fund was established as part of the authority’s 2023/24 budget settlement to assist groups with community asset transfer.

They added: “The council is committed to supporting groups interested in taking ownership of centres through community asset transfer.

“All groups were contacted on the day the budget options were published and again on March 2 to confirm the decision to review the centres.

“The council once again wrote to groups last week informing them of plans to gather their views through a survey which is being issued this week.”