THE future of the Citadel Leisure Centre in Ayr has sparked a heated debate among South Ayrshire councillors - with one senior opposition member claiming the building is "going to fall down" unless it's replaced.

But Labour councillor Philip Saxton swiftly admitted he had used an "incorrect phrase" in a stormy discussion over the facility's future - though he nonetheless insisted he believed it would need replacing, in spite of planned investment by the authority's Conservative-led ruling administration.

And the plans to spend money on the building - large parts of which date from the 1960s - weren't the only aspect of the ruling group's budget plans to come in for criticism from the opposition, with a former Labour depute leader of the council slamming the introduction of a £50 charge for garden waste disposal as "reprehensible".

Councillor Brian McGinley dismissed a range of proposals in the ruling administration's budget plans for a lack of detail.

Councillor McGinley said: “There doesn’t appear in the capital investment programme of the Conservatives and Independent members a clear rationale for the kinds of things that are being proposed.”

He said that that Labour’s proposed allocation for a second hydro electric scheme for the River Ayr ‘may not come to fruition, but shows we are trying to do something different’.

He continued: “I don’t see the narrative, I don’t see the value and I don’t see the ambition going forward.”


Councillor Brian McGinley, Copyright South Ayrshire Council, Free to use for all BBC partners

Councillor Brian McGinley, Copyright South Ayrshire Council, Free to use for all BBC partners


He also claimed that the council was ‘bloating’ by recruiting management and ICT staff. 

Cllr McGinley continued: “There are no frontline staff. This is about management, sucking up and feeding ourselves, with health and safety, finance management.

“These are insatiable facilities, so if you just keep throwing money into ICT it just keeps eating it up.

“The brown bins [charges] are counter-intuitive. It won't work and you will end up coming back and having to fund some solutions because people are not recycling their garden waste any more.

“We might end up needing to supply them with wheelbarrows to take [garden waste] up to the recycling centre. It really is a disgrace.

“To introduce a system that wasn’t there before, a free system, and then charge for it is reprehensible.”

He added that the administration budget would “drag us into a big black hole of intertia and bad ideas”.

The Labour budget statement had stated that they don’t include “spending millions on redundant buildings, proposing unrealistic projects, for example the care village proposals, or paying for expensive design consultants who charge a fortune to tell us what we already know”.

Conservative councillor Bob Pollock (Troon) pointed out that the care village remained in Labour’s proposed capital budget.


Troon Conservative Councillor Bob Pollock

Troon Conservative Councillor Bob Pollock


He added that Labour had ended up supporting the SNP group's budget proposals last year, including the introduction of a £45 waste charge.

He continued: “I would like to know what [Labour's] plans are for regeneration.

“I would also like examples of the design consultants we are paying for, where the figure of millions of pounds for redundant buildings comes from.

“In relation to consultants charging a fortune for what we already know are coming from: what are these charges in relation to, and what do we already know?”

He also slammed Labour's criticism of a "lack of detail" in the Conservatives' proposals, while Labour had set aside £2.5m for a hydro scheme without any details.

Councillor Saxton said that there was no detail on the Hourstons site or on regeneration plans for Ayr town centre.

And he argued: “The Citadel is in a desperate…I think it is going to fall down. It is that bad. The building that old, you need to reconsider.”


Parts of the Citadel Leisure Centre date from the 1960s.

Parts of the Citadel Leisure Centre date from the 1960s.


Council leader Martin Dowey said that Cllr Saxton should retract the comment if he had no evidence, describing the statement that the building ‘is about to fall down’ as a lie.

Cllr Saxton responded that he was simply stating that the building needs replaced.

He said that the acknowledged there was capital work being undertaken. However, he continued: “Is that going to do the job? I don’t think so. What I'm trying to say is, there is a lot of spend but no detail.”

Labour group leader Duncan Townson also replied to Cllr Pollock’s claim around supporting bin charges last year, stating that his group’s budget proposals last year did not contain a charge.

Following a vote, the ruling administration's budget proposals, including a freeze on council tax rates, were approved.