Page last updated at 16:13 GMT, Thursday, 18 March 2010

Cost-cutting plans for ski slope

Hillend dry ski slope
The centre in Midlothian has made annual losses of 500,000

Scotland's biggest artificial ski slope is set to stay open while officials try to cut costs before they consider selling it.

A report recommends Midlothian Ski Centre at Hillend stays open for the next five months while a series of efficiency savings are implemented.

The plan is then for council officials to come up with a strategy for the sale or lease of the site in August.

Midlothian Council said it could not pay the site's £500,000 a year losses.

The report, which councillors are due to vote on next week, also says it would cost £1.2m to close the slope down as there would be £300,000 in redundancy costs and £900,000 in dismantling fees.

Facilities such as Hillend are absolutely vital to produce the next generation of Scottish snow sports competitors
Robin Harper MSP

The proposed efficiency savings would include increasing charges, improving the cafe and making staff changes.

Robin Harper MSP said: "Facilities such as Hillend are absolutely vital to produce the next generation of Scottish snow sports competitors.

"I understand that councils across the country are having a tough time financially, but we cannot lose this incredibly important, and popular, sporting asset.

"I have written to Scottish ministers requesting a meeting, and I will urge them to do everything they can to help secure its future. We must recognise the importance of Hillend to Scotland."

There is also a campaign on the social networking site Facebook to save the dry ski slope.

Hannah Daulby and Lucy Singh, who created the campaign, said: "Our Facebook campaign has highlighted that support for Hillend is huge, with over 26,000 people joining the group."

Donald MacKay, Midlothian Council's director for education and communities, said: "We want to see the centre work as it is an asset for Midlothian, the wider Lothian area and for Scotland.

"But we are facing some extremely tough decisions as a council, with a £25m cut in funding expected for us in the next four years, and we have to look very closely at every aspect of the way the council works."

Fewer than 20% of the centre's current users come from Midlothian.

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