Forestry Commission Scotland announced on Monday the names of the successful bidders for the lease to the controversial new Peel centre at Glentress, Scotland, a popular venue for mountain bikers.
Alpine Bikes will run the bike shop facility and GT Restaurants Ltd will be responsible for running the café at the new £9 million pound Peel Centre, due to open in February.
FCS found themselves at the centre of controversy over the bidding process after the existing bike hire and cafe which has stood at the site for ten years – the Hub in the Forest – lost out on bidding for the tender at an early stage. Users of the Hub reacted strongly to the decision, expressing their dissatisfaction at the FCS’s decision.
Hub co-owner and former world-class mountain biker Emma Guy gave her reaction on Monday to the news that Alpine Bikes and GT Restaurants Ltd had been successful in their bids for the new lease at the site. The hub can continue trading until its lease runs out in February 2012, a year after the new centre opens.
“In some ways it doesn’t matter who got it,” said Guy. “We need to carry on with what we’re doing this year. We still stand by what we put in our tender application based on the facts we know.”
“I hope the successful bidders have deep pockets, because they’ll need it. It will be financial suicide to cope with the rent… we’ll see what happens at the end of the year.”
Guy runs the Hub in the Forest alongside former cross-country mountain biker Tracy Brunger. The two women set up the Hub in response to demand from bikers visiting the numerous trails in the forest. Over the past ten years the business has formed the focal point for a thriving mountain bike community.
Guy has serious concerns that the cost of the new centre, and the rents that the new tenants will have to pay, cannot be supported by the number of visitors or number of trails that the forest offers.
Guy and Brunger will be sending out a statement later this week.
FCS has published full details of the new Glentress Peel centre and the tendering process on its website. It has also attempted to address issues raised by the public over the non-selection of the Hub in the Forest by publishing a letter from Forest Enterprise Scotland chief executive Simon Hodge in December.
In the letter, Hodge says “Nine years ago The Hub secured a five-year lease through a similar open tender process. This was extended to cover the period to completion of the new facilities.
“I understand your disappointment that the Hub was not successful in the recent tender. However, I hope you can recognise that it would not be acceptable for a public body like Forestry Commission Scotland to reject other stronger bids for provision of services in the new facilities.”
Those who wish to take the complaint further can do so by contacting FCS director Dr Bob McIntosh.
Scandal in the forest of Glentress