Public swimming has been restored in Aviemore after a one-year deal was finally thrashed out following a bitter row.
The deal between the resort and High Life Highland (HLH), Highland Council’s arms length leisure company, was agreed following showdown talks between senior representatives of Macdonald Hotels and council chief executive Donna Manson.
As a result, access will now be granted for the next year to HLH members.
Gordon Fraser, deputy chairman of Macdonald Hotels said: “We’re extremely encouraged by the positive and constructive approach taken by Donna Manson and her team and are very happy that we have reached an agreement which will see the local High Life Highland members enjoying the facilities at Aviemore Resort very soon.
“It’s clear that both we and the Council were very keen to welcome back local people and reach a clear and swift resolution to what has been an unfortunate situation for everyone concerned, and particularly for the many local High Life Highland members.”
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Campaigners under the Save our Swimming Campaign (SOS) launched a petition in May in a bid to ensure access remained and avoid a 30-mile round trip to the nearest High Life Highland facility in Grantown.
Carole Long of SOS said: “I am delighted they have been able to come up with a deal, although I am slightly concerned that it is only for a year. Hopefully, now the ball is rolling we will see an agreement put in place for the future.
“We had over 1100 names sign our petition that was sent to Macdonald Resorts and to that extent the campaign had an effect. It brought the community together and from speaking with people and knocking doors our cause was publicly recognised.”
Local councillor Bill Lobban said: “I am delighted that a sensible agreement has been reached. This new deal is great news for Highland Council, High Life Highland and Macdonald Aviemore Resort but most importantly it’s fantastic news for the residents of Badenoch and Strathspey.
“There is no doubt this has had a massive effect on the local area. The pressure from the community has helped to get Macdonald’s and the council back around the table with lots of kids writing letters and demonstrations taking place, but these have been done politely.
“The real winner in all of this is the community.”
Drew Hendry MP, who has worked closely with his constituents over their concerns and brokered the meeting between Macdonald’s and the council, said: “The concern has always been for the people of Aviemore and the surrounding area. It is something that never should have been in doubt and it just shows that to get people around the table that issues like this can be resolved.
“I am naturally delighted people will have access to the pool again and they will be able to enjoy all of the benefits that come with that.”