A proposed increase in funding for Falkirk Community Trust sparked an angry three-hour debate by councillors.
As part of the council’s annual budget meeting and ahead of reviewing spending proposals for the coming year, council members got involved in a heated row over whether the council should boost the trust’s budget by another £520,000 to over £13 million.
The SNP called for the service payment to be cut by £300,000 and a freeze put on plans to increase fees and charges by five per cent from April.
The increase was finally agreed by 16 votes to 15.
The amendment from Councillor John McNally also called for the trust, the not-for-profit organisation formed to deliver the council’s culture, sport, recreation and library services three years ago, to submit a fresh business plan to reflect its funding.
He said: “The increased charges proposed are getting beyond what hard-pressed families can afford. What it delivers has to be affordable to the people who want to use them. These facilities are funded by the council but belong to the people who pay their rates and taxes. This trust has become a cash cow.”
Councillor Tom Coleman claimed: “This organisation is effectively unaccountable. It makes savings by putting its prices up and people are effectively being priced out of the market. We were getting better value for money under the previous system when the council was in control. This operation needs a root and branch review.”
The council was told restricting the service payment increase to £12.8 million and the price freeze would take £600,000 out of the budget - enough to pay for running Falkirk Library.
Labour Councillor Adrian Mahoney said: “The Community Trust deserves the praise it has been given for its work. It is certainly not a poorly performing organisation and also saves the council £1 million a year in rates. It is trying its best.”
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