Budget pressures could spell end for outdoor activities

Affordable fun on the water for youngsters could be a thing of the past if the Falkirk Outdoor Activities are axed

Affordable fun on the water for youngsters could be a thing of the past if the Falkirk Outdoor Activities are axed

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Campaigners have a mountain to climb if they want to retain Falkirk Outdoor Activities after this year’s council budget.

The activities, which include affordable kayaking, rock climbing, skiing and camping for youngsters and adults, are currently provided by Falkirk Community Trust at a cost of £260,000 a year, but money-saving proposals could put an end to this popular programme.

In order to help save the scheme, Falkirk resident Gillian Millar, a regular user of the service, started an online petition on January 26 and now has over 240 signatories.

She said: “What has struck me the most is the number of people who have taken the time to write heartfelt comments on the petition. This is a much-loved and valued service of which Falkirk is rightly proud.”

Falkirk Outdoor Activities offers three main services to the community of Falkirk and the surrounding areas – for schoolchildren, youngsters during school holidays and adults.

The range of activities on offer is impressive and, as well as expert instructors being on hand to give guidance and supervision, equipment and transport can also be provided.

Gillian said: “The instructors are an exceptional bunch of people – patient, encouraging, inspiring, exceptionally knowledgeable, positive, great teachers, generous with their time and expertise.

“They inspire you to do things you never thought you could do.

“They actually change lives.”

Falkirk Community Trust has been told by Falkirk Council to expect a £1.248 million reduction in its annual funding allocation from the local authority.

A trust spokesperson said: “It is unfortunately not possible to achieve the level of savings required without there being an impact on our services and staff.

“One of our proposals is to withdraw from the provision of our outdoor activities programme to both the community and local schools.

“During the consultation period we are open to any suggestions or ideas that would ensure the ongoing provision of such services, while saving the £260,000 it currently costs to operate the outdoor activity service in its current form.

“We are very aware of the impact the withdrawal of this service will have on our community and local schools. However, we have had to take this difficult decision.

“It has been necessary to begin the formal staff and union consultation process on our proposals in the expectation our Business Plan will be approved and implemented by April 1.”

To sign Gillian’s petition visit www.change.org and search for “save falkirk outdoor activities”.