Figures reveal big leap in leisure use in Falkirk

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More people than ever before are taking advantage of sports and leisure facilities across Falkirk district.

Latest figures show that the uptake in a range of activities is increasing, with only a few areas showing a dip in use.

Sports centres and pools saw over half a million admissions in the six months from April to September last year, with 5000 more people visiting Falkirk Town Hall and admissions to the Bo’ness Hippodrome up by 26 per cent.

A report on Falkirk Community Trust, the charitable body set up in 2011 to run a range of culture, library, recreation and sport services on behalf of Falkirk Council, revealed how it was performing.

When it was formed the council said it would generate savings of just under £1 million a year on non-domestic rates and VAT, as well as having access to funding not available to local authorities.

Last week, councillors clashed over how the £12 million they were being asked to give the trust to run and manage the services is spent.

There were claims that not enough detail was given in its business plan and opposition members wanted the decision on the cash to be delayed until more information could be gleaned.

However, the move was defeated on a vote.

In the blueprint for the next three years, trust chairman Ian Scott revealed: “Of particular significance are plans to purposefully pursue external funding to support our work. Included are specific actions to build engagement with potential funders for Callendar House and Kinneil House development.”

Chief executive Maureen Campbell, who along with around 500 staff, transferred to the trust, said a full review of fees would be carried out.

However, she stressed: “Continued delivery of affordable and discounted prices that support those least able to pay will be at the heart of the review. But whereas the council would always bring in price increases on April 1 in line with its budget, we will be looking to make any changes seasonal.

“Although nothing has been decided yet, it would make sense to bring in any change for the hire of pitches at the start of the football stadium in August, while there is no point in putting up gym charges when the weather is getting better and people might decide to run outdoors instead.

“However, we have still to look at this in-depth before any decision is made.”