A hotel boss has hit back in the row over public swimming in Aviemore.
Macdonald Hotels & Resorts decided not to open its Aviemore pool to Highland Council leisure scheme members, despite doing so in the past.
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High Life Highland (HLH) pass holders were told they could no longer access the pool in August after the current agreement between the hotel group and the council expired.
The two sides reached stalemate when Macdonald said the numbers simply did not add up.
Gordon Fraser, deputy chairman of Macdonald Hotels & Resorts said after Highland Council increased their annual rates bill by more than 50% in the year to March 2018, the company sought ‘a modest uplift in charges’ to help cover this and other rises in salaries and energy costs at the Aviemore resort.
He went on to blast local councillor John Bruce for ‘breath-taking cheek’ when he suggested that having taken public money to build the resort, Macdonald should continue to allow the public in.
He said: “It is, of course, right and proper that local politicians get involved in such important issues, but for councillor Bruce to insist that we should simply swallow the enormous increases in rates, salaries and energy costs at Aviemore without seeking a reasonable increase in the amount we receive for allowing Highland High Life members to use private leisure facilities, is blatant double-standards.”
Chairman and founder Donald Macdonald said in 2004 a partnership of Bank of Scotland, Tulloch and Macdonald brought forward plans to invest £54m in the Aviemore Resort, which had fallen into disrepair after many years of neglect.
He said: “Given the enormous potential benefits of this scheme to the local and Highland economies, and the large numbers of jobs which would be created, Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE) supported the project with a grant of £6.3m. HIE also acquired £2.4m in preference shares.
“However, due in large part to delay, obfuscation and obstruction by the previous administration of Highland Council, planning permissions were still not able to be delivered after 13 frustrating years of trying.
“Since then we have invested £9.9million in transforming the infrastructure at Aviemore and are now the largest private-sector employer in the area, with hundreds of full and part-time staff employed there and an annual wage bill of £4.9m.”
He added: “There has always been a real willingness on our part to reach a sustainable deal with Highland Council which would allow local people to resume access to the facilities at Aviemore. There is nothing that would please us more than having this situation resolved.”
Mr Bruce and Highland Council declined to comment,