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Highland athletics facility off limits to athletes during Scottish Parliament election period as Covid-19 crisis prompts changes

By Will Clark

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QUEENS Park Stadium has been closed off to athletes due to Inverness Leisure Centre being used as part of the Scottish Parliament election count.

Marquee tents have been erected at Queen's Park Stadium.
Marquee tents have been erected at Queen's Park Stadium.

Marquee tents have been installed at the athletics track and field making it unavailable to be used by athletes.

The facility was closed off on Monday and could be unavailable until Sunday, May 16 which Inverness Harriers said could be the latest the site is cleared of the tents.

Alternative arrangements have been made for Inverness Harriers athletes who have been given use of Bught Park, with a 400 metres track being marked out at Charleston Academy.

Speaking on behalf of The Highland Council and High Life Highland, Election Manager, Linda Johnstone said, “For many years, Inverness Leisure has been used for election counts with minimum disruption to customers and members.

"Obviously for the count following the Scottish Parliamentary election on Thursday, May 6, things are extraordinarily different from previous years.

“Other venues were considered, but due to the COVID-safe and increased security requirements needed for this election count, Inverness Leisure was the only venue able to accommodate those needs.

“Therefore, in line with the necessary guidance, we have been working to create an environment that will keep all those involved safe and secure during the counting process.

As a result of those measures, and having utilised the available space internally, we had no option but to make arrangements to have a number of marquees erected on Queens Park, putting the athletics stadium temporarily out of action whilst the count takes place.”

Director of sport and leisure Douglas Wilby, added, “We have been in ongoing communication with the Inverness Harriers and we are pleased that we have come to a position that will allow the club’s elite athletes the opportunity to continue their training during this time.”

Inverness Harriers president Duncan Flockhart, commented, “Whilst the club obviously understands the important role that Inverness Leisure is playing the forthcoming election process, everyone at the club was extremely disappointed that, as a result, our members would be unable to train at the facility, having training schedules interrupted, impacting greatly on our

athletes trying to achieve, times, distances and standards for domestic, national and European events.

"However, I am pleased that in discussion with The Highland Council and High Life Highland, the Club has been offered access to alternative facilities that will allow some of these athletes to continue with their training programmes during the count period.

“I am further reassured that the use of the alternative location has come at no cost to the club

and I have been given a further guarantee that the club will return to Queens Park as soon as is reasonably possible.”

Election count arrangements revamped

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