PLANS by East Ayrshire Council to close Catrine Games Hall have been scrapped.

Catrine Community Trust (CCT) will take over the running of the games hall from June 1, just two months after it was due to close.

An online petition to keep the games hall open had gathered over 700 signatures before the trust stepped in.

The council has agreed to an asset transfer that would see the trust lease the hall from EAC.

The hall had been due to close on March 31 but EAC has granted the trust a two-month stay of execution.

Shaun Harkin, chairman of the CCT’s games hall subcommittee got involved after hearing about the petition on Facebook.

Shaun said: “It is our aim to have our whole community involved in the ideas for our games hall.

“We are striving towards creating more activities and classes for the school kids in the village as without the games hall there is very little in the way of leisure activities in our village.

“By keeping everyone in the village involved and listening to ideas, we feel it can bring everyone together in our village and also promote health and well-being through various different activities.

“We plan to tie in with Catrine Primary regularly and listen to what our kids actually want to see in our village.

“We also are looking to give young adults a chance to receive valuable experience and gain recognised certification by joining our team of volunteers who will ultimately be responsible for the running of the games hall.

“If our project is successful long term we are hoping In the future to employ staff from the local areas and even offer work placements for school leavers who wish to join the leisure industry.”

As part of the asset transfer, the council has granted CCT a one year lease on the games hall and, should things go well, it is expected the lease would be extended.

Ballochmyle Councillor David Shaw has been heavily involved in the project and is a member of the games hall subcommittee.

He has been very critical of the council’s decision to close the games hall.

Cllr Shaw said: “I was born and brought up in the area, I’m the local councillor and a local businessman.

“When I looked at the finances, if it continues to be used as much, and it’s very under used at the moment, once I took out the staffing costs, it was £13,000 in profit so I got involved.

“It’s the only one of the local games halls that could be saved. If that games hall shuts Catrine will be left with nothing.”

Cllr Shaw was instrumental in the asset transfer of the day centre in Muirkirk.

The move will see a community hub set up with the fitness centre moving across from Muirkirk Games Hall.

The former Labour councillor is hopeful the Catrine project can be just as successful.

He said: “If I can keep people interested, don’t let them get too excited so they can walk before the can run, then it could go from strength to strength.

“I managed to get the council to leave all the equipment and train those that are interested, because there is a lot of training to do, health and safety etc.”

Shaun added: “Ultimately our aim was to save the games hall for our village and we are progressing in the right direction thanks to our dedicated committee. “There is still a long way to go and this is unchartered territory for us however we are confident with the continued support of our village we can make this a success for our local community.

“If anyone would be interested in joining our team or may even have any ideas they feel would help please feel free to speak to a committee member or get in touch via our Facebook page at Catrine games hall.”