Final touches now being made to the Mintlaw Community Hub

Councillor Norman Smith, Connie Strachan and manager Michael Watson outside the Mintlaw Community Hub
Councillor Norman Smith, Connie Strachan and manager Michael Watson outside the Mintlaw Community Hub

Mintlaw and Central Buchan Initiative (MACBI) are preparing to open their long-awaited sport and community centre in Mintlaw.

Final touches are currently taking place at the Mintlaw Community Hub, which is scheduled to open on Saturday, March 8.

MACBI chairman, councillor Norman Smith, spoke to the Buchanie about the project, saying: “I became involved ten years ago and we had money given to us by Aberdeenshire Council from the SPLASH project. From there on it was a case of sitting down and deciding what to do with it.

“A few of us had suggested building a community centre type building so we drew up plans which are being used now, although there have been a few tweaks along the way.

“There have been plenty highs and lows throughout the process, mostly disappointments regarding funding but we eventually ended up with four main funders: Aberdeenshire Council, Sport Scotland, SRDP and the Robertson Trust. We managed to pick up another three on the way which were Total, Shell and SPS Haulage.”

After receiving great news about funding, the project quickly began picking up the pace as Cllr Smith explained: “We started holding regular meetings, went to local galas and held public consultations to ask the public what they wanted and see if we could provide that.

“We also held the fundraising MACBI Fun Run at Aden Country Park to raise awareness of what we were doing and it helped the local people of Buchan to give their views and helped us to give them what they wanted.

“Four years ago we got planning permission, secured the site from the council and from there we really started to progress. In the last two years our funding packages came together and on May 11 last year we had the first sod cutting and the contractors started on site.

“We put the job out to tender and Bancon were the preferred contractor, that is when everything was set in stone.”

Cllr Smith praised the warm weather for playing its part in the building process: “Fortunately we had a good summer and tail end of the year which was a boost to the job, we hardly had any delay due to the weather.”

The last vital piece of the MACBI puzzle was found in December last year as a centre manager was found.

Cllr Smith said: “We advertised and employed Michael Watson and have since interviewed and employed six other staff members so we are up to our full complement of staff and ready to start.”

The £2million facility will be suitable for various sports, dance classes and has the scope for a cinema and concerts. It will also have conference and computer facilities, a cafe, a soft play area and by April, it will take over the running of the all weather pitch.

Speaking about the opening, Cllr Smith said: “I am nervous but now it is in the final stages after ten years, it is a great feeling to stand inside and see it all come together.

“It has been down to the directors and committee members who have stood to the task but we got there, we just need the public to give us their support to make the centre viable which we hope and wish it will be.

“We have had a lot of interest for bookings so far and soon we will be able to take bookings for children’s parties.”

Centre manager, Michael Watson said: “I am excited and chomping at the bit to get started now that we have all our staff.

“I am looking forward to getting the community in and receive their feedback and ideas with regards to the activities we will have on offer. We will decide the activites initially, but the public can take ownership of it and tell us what they would like to see made available.

New staff member, Connie Strachan said: “I am excited to get started, everyone has put a lot of work in to get where we are now so I can’t wait to put the work in and help make it successful.”

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