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Legal threats on both sides

Councillors seize control of Musselburgh

Racing at the East Lothian course is under new control (photo by Terry Murden)

Musselburgh Racecourse is under the control of local councillors as opposing groups threaten to take legal action against the other.

Racecourse staff are also said to be considering taking industrial action after the latest developments at the course.

The move will see the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee abolished after running the course for 15 years and replaced by a new body.

East Lothian Council say the change of control is in accordance with the findings of a governance review demanded by the British Horseracing Authority, who threatened to withhold Musselburgh’s licence to race unless a review was carried out into future management of the course.

Musselburgh’s temporary licence expires in early April.

Opponents accuse the council of “riding roughshod over legally binding provisions.”

Councillor Fiona O’Donnell, acting chairman of the MJRC, who is expected to continue in that role under the new set up, said current governance arrangements cannot continue.

“Musselburgh Racecourse has been a home to horseracing for more than 200 years,” she said.

“It is a much-loved venue which we want to see continue operating successfully – in the interests of racegoers, our economy, the local community and its valued employees.

“An independent governance review was undertaken as a licence requirement of the BHA and I am pleased that the council unanimously has agreed to implement the required changes.”

The racecourse was subject to a power struggle last year between LRS and East Lothian Council – culminating in former MJRC chair John Caldwell losing his council seat at last year’s elections.

The MRJC will be abolished and replaced with a new Musselburgh Racecourse Associated Committee – made up of four elected councillors from various parties, and two racing experts.

John Prideaux, chairman of the Lothians Racing Syndicate, said: “Today’s decision by East Lothian Council has ridden roughshod over legally binding provisions contained in a Minute of Agreement concerning the management of Musselburgh Racecourse.”

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