Halt the closure of a well-used public and community sports hub!

Coatbridge outdoor sports centre - perhaps best known as 'Langloan Gym' - will be closing its doors to the public for the last time this coming November.

The facility is well equipped to meet the needs of a varied and broad clientele, featuring an extensive free weights section, numerous cardio and resistance machines, punch bags, a large open plan floor area complete with mats, an eight-lane Olympic standard running track, open field area for various athletics activities and archery, a long jump pit, an eleven-a-side football pitch and an open air viewing gallery for spectators.

The gym is well used and has 'family' sort of feel to it, despite being an NL Leisure facility, and crucially, is the last of a dying breed - users can 'pay at the door' - a rarity in the world of corporate memberships and monthly direct debits. This suits our clientele, which ranges from teenagers, high school, college and university students, unemployed, recovering alcoholics and drug addicts to teachers, joiners, plumbers, social workers and police officers.

Similarly, as part of the NL group, the facility is centrally funded and indeed, a lot of users pay using the monthly direct scheme. However, the very nature of NL is that no one facility financially supports itself - they all subsidise one another as part of the group, with each faculty bringing something different to each area.

To the best of our knowledge (and we, as users of the facility, have received no direct contact from NL Leisure) we understand that the facility will not be demolished and will remain open to certain groups and for certain events. We could perhaps understand if the facility was being demolished - as there are nearby NL faculties (in the form of the time capsule) available - but the building will remain intact. Given the relatively small staffing costs and outlays, the profits made from facilities such as the time capsule, and how well used the facility is, one cannot but help to wonder that this is yet another smokescreen from North Lanarkshire Council (the same authority who bulldozed part of a country park, nature trail and a dozen football pitches to build a school).

The facility is one of the few places where athletes, weight lifters, body builders, footballers, rugby players and runners can train together. One can warn up on the track outside, use the squat rack inside, then finish with some hill sprints outside. Due to these factors, athletes such as Olympic and Commonwealth runner Lee McConnell used to call Langloan their home. In the light of Glasgow's recent successful commonwealth games, and given the fact that Scotland is unhealthier than it has ever been, and with child obesity at an all new high, how can you REALLY justify closing, what is, after all, meant to be a non-profit making public service?

David Pennie, North Lanarkshire resident and NL member.    Contact the author of the petition