By Kirsty Topping
A SCOTTISH council has sparked fury by spending quarter of a million on staff uniforms at the same time as cutting services.
Edinburgh Council spent 250,000 on new tracksuits, polo shirts and suits despite a programme of leisure centre closures.
That’s despite Edinburgh Leisure, the not-for-profit company which is part-funded by the council, finished the last financial year 448,000 over budget.
A spokeswoman for the Edinburgh Leisure tried to justify the new uniforms, which she said are necessary to ensure staff can be easily identified and suitably protected in the workplace
“There is often significant wear and tear to their uniforms as our employees work in a sporting environment and it is important our staff take pride in their appearance and the service they provide to our customers. “
“We are also preparing for a large increase in demand for staff uniforms due to the significant employment opportunities that will be presented by the reopening of the Royal Commonwealth Pool next spring. “
The three-year contract was slammed by residents who had protested the closure of a South Queensferry facility.
Elizabeth Sneddon, of the Queensferry Recreation Survivors’ Association, said:
“Surely instead of new uniforms Edinburgh Leisure could put this money towards keeping open rural community centres like South Queensferry.
“Our centre was a focal point for the community and when you take something like this away it leaves young people nowhere to go for activities.
“We understand that you need to replace uniforms but surely keeping a local community centre open must be the priority. “
Lothians MSP Sarah Boyak, who has campaigned against the closure of sports centres in the past, said:
“This looks like a very strange choice to make when there are cuts being made to centres.
“It is a significant amount of money and people are going to wonder about the wisdom of making this a priority. “
Local councilor Paul Godzik, a former board member at Edinburgh Leisure, added:
“At a time when services are being cut it is obviously an issue of some concern.
“Obviously Edinburgh Leisure has a job to do in providing the best services they can, however they are under a great deal of budget pressure and I recognize that some campaigners will view this very dimly. “