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Green MSP urges Highland Council not to close climbing wall in Inverness

By Philip Murray

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Ariane Burgess outside the Inverness Leisure Centre where the climbing wall faces the axe.
Ariane Burgess outside the Inverness Leisure Centre where the climbing wall faces the axe.

Highland Council has been urged to reconsider the closure of a popular climbing wall in the city.

The wall, at Inverness Leisure Centre, is being closed by High Life Highland once the new The Ledge climbing centre opens in Telford Retail Park.

It made the move to save costs and balance the wider centre's budget. It is understood the 25-year-old wall needs tens of thousands of pounds of renovation work.

But Green MSP Ariane Burgess has urged MSP calls on Highland Council to reconsider the closure, arguing it is a "key part" of the site and will be "essential for future generations of climbers".

Related: Mountaineering Scotland 'shocked and saddened' by Inverness Leisure climbing wall closure plan

Related: Inverness climbing wall petition is signed by hundreds

She said: “This decision would seem to be counter-productive, given the potential negative impact that this could have on access to sport in the community and the wellbeing of families in the Highlands.

“The climbing wall is a key part of the Leisure Centre. Closing it would be a huge loss for the community. It’s essential for future generations of climbers that it remains open, so it stays an accessible activity.

“Although I welcome the opening of a new climbing facility at the Telford Retail Park, it has to be acknowledged that it will not provide the same offer as the Leisure Centre. Having a climbing wall at the Leisure Centre allows families and groups to do different activities at the same time at an affordable price.

“The Highlands are at the epicentre of UK mountaineering. We have a proud tradition of nurturing people’s thirst for exploration as well as ensuring that they are equipped with the skills and knowledge for climbing. It’s essential that we’re able to provide a safe, affordable place for them to do that.

“I have raised the real value of the climbing wall with the council, and why they should look again at keeping it open. That’s not to underestimate the severe challenges the council faces but we have to have an awareness about what this decision could mean in the wider context.

A petition opposing the closure of the wall at the Inverness Leisure sports complex has gathered more than 2000 signatures and Ms Burgess has urged her constituents to sign it at www.change.org/p/save-highlife-highland-inverness-leisure-climbing-wall.

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