A decision has been made to close the swimming pool and games hall at Auchinleck Leisure Centre with immediate effect.

An East Ayrshire Council Cabinet meeting made the decision this week, in line with a recommendation from local authority officials.

The move comes after EAC announced last year that it planned to close down the leisure centre and direct local residents to facilities elsewhere, including at the Barony Campus in Cumnock.

Health and safety concerns were cited as the reason for the decision to shut the pool and games hall straight away - with councillors visiting the facility to see the issues for themselves before rubber-stamping the officials' recommendation.

Cumnock Chronicle: Locals had been fighting to save the centre.Locals had been fighting to save the centre. (Image: Charlie Gilmour)

It was added that, since December 1, more than £10,000 has been spent on reactive repairs to the building.

Changing facilities at the centre will be retained on a temporary basis, until Merlin Park has been suitably upgraded as a replacement facility.

The council will invest £1.4m improving the pitch and facilities at Merlin Park. No timescale has been set for when this will be completed.

Representatives from Auchinleck community were in attendance, with Carol Robertson and Jean Allardyce addressing the cabinet directly at the start of the session, to once again present their case for keeping the Auchinleck facilities open.

READ MORE: Second legal challenge over leisure centre 'unnecessary', say council bosses

The meeting heard that the demolition of the Auchinleck campus will be completed once the move to Merlin Park has been finalised.

Councillor Douglas Reid said: “This is a very hard decision for us to make, but members from all parties have agreed the way forward.

"We recognise that there is an overwhelming public objection to this closure, and we thank everyone involved for taking the time to share their view with us.

"But at the same time we cannot ignore the financial problems surrounding this facility, which are quite literally staring us in the face.

“Community wellbeing, health and safety, poverty and inclusion all sit at the heart of this decision.

Our communities deserve to be able to access facilities that are fit for purpose and in their current state, these facilities are not and in the current financial climate there is no money available to bring them all up to the standard our communities expect."

Cumnock Chronicle: Councillor Douglas ReidCouncillor Douglas Reid (Image: East Ayrshire Council)

The council leader added: “However, there are other suitable alternatives within the same locality and we will continue to work with these organisations to ensure people do not miss out on the leisure activities they enjoy.

"We hope that over time our residents will appreciate why these difficult decisions had to be made.”