Kelburne Hockey Club wants to take over Ralston Community Sports Centre

Politicians are pitching in to fight a bid to take a sports centre out of public hands.

Kelburne Hockey Club wants to take over Ralston Community Sports Centre for its own use.

It will mean the ripping up the existing football pitches . . . if approval is given for an asset transfer from Renfrewshire Council.

Tory Councillor Neill Graham is determined the centre, which also includes a gym and dance studio, remains in public hands.

He’s calling for it to remain a public football facility and says the plan should be given the red card.

Whitehaugh-based Kelburne is seeking a community asset transfer of the facility.

The £600,000 plan which would see the football pitches transformed into hockey pitches by August next year.

The site boasts a full-size synthetic football pitch and two smaller pitches on grass.

Renfrewshire Tory supremo Neill Graham wants "crown jewels" left alone
Renfrewshire Tory supremo Neill Graham wants “crown jewels” left alone
(Image: Andrew Neil)

Councillor Graham, the Tory group leader on Renfrewshire Council, said: “The SNP council should not be selling off community crown jewels such as this and this land grab needs to be red-carded.

“I have nothing against the ambitions of the hockey club behind this proposal but these pitches give local kids the chance to play football.

“The past year and a half of pandemic restrictions has highlighted the importance of keep young people active as it benefits physical and mental health.

“Scotland football fans often wonder why we have struggled on the international stage in recent decades. Well, decisions like this may be part of the explanation.”

The successful hockey club currently play at the Kelburne Cricket ground.

But they say Ralston represents a “once-in-lifetime” opportunity to get a home of their own.

Ralston Community Council has already heard concerns about the lack of football facilities in the area.

Russell Findlay MSP - wants kicks and not sticks
Russell Findlay MSP – wants kicks and not sticks
(Image: Submitted)

West Scotland MSP Russell Findlay also wants the hockey plan kicked out.

He said: “Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP government has received an additional £14.5 billion in funding from the UK Government since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This has been a lifeline for jobs, businesses and communities across Scotland – but the SNP continues to short change our councils, who are under immense financial pressure.

“The SNP council in Renfrewshire and its arms-length operator Renfrewshire Leisure need to think again and do the right thing for kids in Paisley who deserve to be able to kick a ball around.”

In 2003, Renfrewshire Council transferred the running of its sporting facilities, libraries and museums to charitable trust Renfrewshire Leisure.

Kelburne Hockey Club has been contacted for comment.

Daily Record – Paisley