Long-awaited plans for a major indoor sports development in Fort William have been thrown into doubt over funding concerns.
Lochaber Sports Association (LSA) has been developing plans for a new multi-sport facility for a number of years.
But a question mark was hanging over the scheme last night after Highland Council revealed plans to invest a maximum of £200,000 in the project.
The potential offer is less than a quarter of the £845,000 requested by the association towards the construction of the facility at Lochaber High School, which is expected to cost £1.47million in total.
Sportscotland has already pledged £500,000 to the development but this was dependent on a certain level of support from the council.
Council leader Margaret Davidson said that the offer would provide “clarity” to the group in order to allow them to pursue other funding options.
The LSA declined to comment last night.
But local councillor Bill Clark said he was “incredulous” at the position.
The funding offer was revealed in a report which is due to go before councillors next week for a decision.
Finance director Derek Yule said that the council had previously “indicated its support, including the offer of financial help” but “no formal decision has ever been taken”.
They had been requested to pay £600,000 towards construction, as well as a VAT bill worth £245,000.
Mrs Davidson said that the sports association had been left with “half promises” about the council’s financial contribution to the project for too long and said she had promised to set out the authority’s position in a meeting with the group recently.
She said: “Every community is starting to have real ambition when it comes to sports facilities and the council has to step back and a look at that.
“The fact is the capital discretionary fund has never been used to fund anything on that scale.”
Mr Clark, councillor for Caol and Mallaig, said: “It makes me completely incredulous that Lochaber is being left behind as far as sporting facilities are concerned.
“There have been promises at various times for years that an indoor pitch would be on its way.
“We live in one of the wettest places in the country and it’s no laughing matter. Grass pitches just don’t work.
“Some of the teams have to travel to Kinlochleven or Mallaig to use the all weather pitches there.
“I can’t help but have the feeling that if this was Inverness then the money would be found from somewhere.”