Castings Club’s future in doubt

The Castings Club
The Castings Club

Scotland’s sporting stars are being asked to back a campaign to save a community club.

Members of Castings Social and Sports Club were called to a meeting last week and told the shutters would come down on September 3.

Tommy McMillan of Alchemy Inns, who bought the club 12 years ago when it was last under threat, said it was no longer financially viable to keep it open. He said the club was almost £20,000 in debt.

Now politicians and members are urging people to join a grassroots campaign to save the facilities in Etna Road, Falkirk, which include a bowling green, three tennis courts and a clubhouse.

There are fears that the site could be bulldozed for housing. Earlier this year an outline planning application to develop the land for residential purposes was submitted then withdrawn.

Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn, who is an honorary member of the club, said: “After the boost of the Olympics, this comes as a major body blow to the Falkirk community in general and Middlefield in particular. It sends out all the wrong messages.”

The campaign includes urging top athletes and coaches to support efforts to keep the club open. Those being targeted include Dunblane’s Judy Murray, mum of Olympic gold medallist Andy Murray, who is already campaigning for new and improved facilities for up-and-coming tennis players.

The club, which has been in existence for around 90 years, was last threatened with closure in 2000 when owners Glynwed wanted to raise cash from its asset.

Then the firm told employees at its Larbert-based subsidiary Falcon Catering the money would pay for future expansion and redevelopment of the plant. However, three years later it pulled out of the district.

Bowlers and tennis players have also to be members of the social club, but it is understood that there have been poor relations between the different factions for some time.

Rumours have surfaced in the last week that those involved in the sporting side of the club felt they were being kept in the dark about the social club.

One committee member said: “There has been a big, dark cloud over the club for some time. This is the final straw.”

The Castings was thrown into further disarray in May when club president Sandra Duncan was jailed for 20 months for a benefit fraud.

She told Department of Works and Pensions officials she was unable to work due to a broken ankle and over an 11- year period claimed invalidity benefit of £50,433.84. All that time she was employed 25 hours a week by Falkirk Council as the caretaker at Thornhill Community Hall.

Last week, a confiscation order was made against Duncan at Falkirk Sheriff Court for £38,141.50.

Mr McMillan said he met with club officials six months ago and warned them there were problems, but no rescue plan appears to have been drawn up.

He said: “It keeps losing more and more money and has been for the last three years. I’ve been putting my own cash into it, but enough is enough. Six months ago I met with them and wiped £5000 off the debt but no-one came back to me.”

Falkirk Community Trust and sportscotland are both being lobbied to lend support to the campaign.