Duns sports clubs looking forward to new pitches

Frances Renton handing over the lease to DRFC and DAFC
Frances Renton handing over the lease to DRFC and DAFC

eight years of hard work by SportDuns was finally rewarded this week with the official handing over of the old Berwickshire High School sports facilities.

Duns rugby, football and squash clubs make up SportDuns and all will be based at the town’s new sports hub at the old high school.

Chair of SportDuns, Michael Reed said: “SportDuns took this on eight years ago and to successfully get to where we are, with the leases secured, is very satisfying. In due course we should be in a position of transferring the surplus buildings from the council to the three clubs.”

Both Duns rugby and football clubs expect it to take around 12-18 months to get the sports pitches match ready, and work started on the rugby pitches over the past month.

There is still quite a lot of negotiating to be done as far as club rooms for the football and rugby clubs are concerned. The plan is for them to use redundant buildings at the old high school (which will not be needed by Duns Primary School which is re-locating). But along with this comes the issue of services such as water, sewerage and electricity. At the moment all these services come from the school and will be disconnected when work starts on refurbishing the school for primary school use.

Water and sewerage is already established to the swimming pool, however, and SportDuns are confident that it should be possible to connect the new club rooms to the services via the existing connection.

Mid Berwickshire councillor Frances Renton said: “Obviously I’m delighted it’s happening at last. I’ve worked with SportDuns and the various clubs since I came on board as a councillor in 2007 so I’m obviously pleased we’ve reached this stage.

“It’s phase one, with the lease to sign over the playing fields.

“Phase two is for the rugby and football clubs to take on the buildings. It’s up to the individual clubs now to find the money to do what they want to do with the buildings.

“We’ve set up a user group, of which I’m chair, which will deal with the day to day running of the sports facilities and we meet on a regular basis to make sure everything is running well.

“It’s bringing sport within the town again. It’s been very difficult for the elderly population to go and watch matches and by doing this we can encourage them to come and watch.”

SBC’s head of property and facilities management, Andrew Drummond Hunt added: “The transfer of the former Berwickshire High School pitches to SportDuns is a good example of how the council can work with community organisations to help enable them to take responsibility for community assets and develop them for the benefit of all.

“The former playing fields and associated buildings will become a key facility for the sporting community of the Duns area, complementing the sporting facilities at the adjacent Berwickshire High School and the Duns swimming pool next door.”