Bonnyrigg Rose community club to take ownership of Poltonhall

Wednesday January 31st 2024

bonnyrigg-rose-asset transfer

Written by Midlothian View Editor, Phil Bowen

Midlothian Councillors have approved the asset transfer of the Poltonhall Sport Complex to Bonnyrigg Rose Community Football Club (BRCFC). The decision marks the culmination of a 6 year journey for the club.

Bonnyrigg Rose Community Football Club, shares the same name, same kit and same love of football as Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic who play in Scottish League Two, but the two clubs are separate entities.

In 2018, following a Sport Pitch Review, the Council’s recommended action was to seek to transfer the pitches to BRCFC or close the facility in August 2018. At the time the 3G pitch at Poltonhall was in a very bad state of repair and the council did not have the funds to replace it. This is when the committee of BRCFC stepped in and made plans to run Poltonhall themselves.

The club achieved charity status in 2016 and went on to achieve Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) status in 2021.

The club has evolved to meet the needs of the community. The Asset Transfer has always been in their sights and has been openly discussed with Midlothian Council since the initial stage of taking on the lease and the club fully understands the responsibilities that come with it. They are happy to have a facility everyone can use and that they can use to support those most in need.

They have invested heavily in the site, spending over £100k on the pavilion as well as the money they’ve invested for the pitch replacement project and ongoing maintenance.

This has been done with a view to creating a legacy for future generations. The football facilities have been renewed as a result of a collaborative approach in gathering the necessary funds. Developer Contributions, Sports Scotland and the club’s own contribution saw the 3G replacement take place in 2022. The club has established a ‘sink fund’ so that in 10 or so years when the 3G needs replacing again they will have the funds ready to do that. Currently the sink fund stands at just over £100,000.

The site is protected by Fields in Trust and the asset transfer ensures that Poltonhall can only be used for sport and cannot be sold on for development, such as housing.

11 local people are now employed full or part time with the club.

Working with the Council is a natural way of working for the club. They facilitate a weekly youth group with Midlothian Council Communities Lifelong Learning and Employability (CLLE), they have been asked if they will be a long term partner and have been invited to join in the development of the youth work/ strategy.

During Covid the club opened a foodbank on behalf of the Council for local people. They’ve successfully gained large and small grants from the council which has enabled them to deliver various projects supporting those who are most vulnerable.

The club now is associated with and works with a long list of local organisations and bodies. They work with

– Police Scotland (Communities Team)
– Fire Service
– Citizens Advice Bureau CAB (Outreach Partner)
– Midlothian Council – Trusted Partner
– Active Schools
– Lasswade High School
– Local Midlothian Primary Schools
– Faith Groups
– Mums Walk
– SFA,
– Sports Scotland
– Scottish Football Partnership
– SPFL Trust
– Red Cross
– Positive Mental Health Scotland
– Learning Circles Scotland
– Emotion All,
– Rebecca McKinney Counselling
– Lynn Hogarth Counselling
– Tiny Changes Health in Mind
– Veterans
– Lady Haig Poppy Factory
– Poppy Scotland
– Cyrenians
– Local Community Councils.

Whilst their recent growth has been significant our principles and values remain constant, being able provide a safe environment for the encouragement and promotion of football and good health within the local community through the provision of youth teams for boys and girls that foster fair play, participation for all, irrespective of race, colour, religion, sex, sexuality or disability.

Their presence in the community through football allows them to foster partnerships with other likeminded organisations. By engaging in other non-footballing initiatives with their associate members they are harnessing the power of football to create a true community organisation.

In 2022 the club was asked by UEFA if we would take part in a pilot project around ‘Social Return on Investment’. The results were quite something. They were based on the membership at the time of 651 players. The overall impact of the clubs footballing activities equated to £3.95 million per year; £475k for the economy, £2.25 million on the social impact and £1.22 million for health. And the report didnlt capture all the community activity – just football.

The SFA recognises BRCFC as a Platinum Quality Mark Club.

At the meeting of the Asset Transfer committee, Council Leader, Councillor Kelly Parry thanked the club and council officers for the work to bring the application to the point where it could now be passed.

The committee approved the asset transfer with Councillor Colin Cassidy, chairing the committee saying:

“The work that they do up at Bonnyrigg Rose just isn’t about football and kicking balls about a pitch, There is so much more in-depth that goes on up there.”

The club will not take ownership of Poltonhall for a symbolic £1. The transfer of ownership means the council is no longer responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the complex and thus it is a saving for the council.

Jim Wilson, BRCFC General Manager and Trish Sime, BRCFC Development Manager were both at the asset transfer meeting and were delighted with the decision.

Jim told Midlothian View

“We can now get on with improving this football club even more.”

You can read the detailed report discussed at the meeting HERE.

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