Members of the local authority’s scrutiny panel questioned the value in using public money to fund baby massage classes.
Aberlour Early Years Outreach Service, which receives £315,162 from the council, provides support to families with children under four years of age and aims to increase parent confidence and enhance children’s learning and development.
Based in Carronvale Road, Larbert, the service organises various activities for parents and children, but it was the infant massage classes which drew the attention of Falkirk Council scrutiny committee members last Thursday.
Councillor Allyson Black said: “I think some of these activities seem a bit self indulgent and I would say child massage classes is an extra, not a necessity. We have to be very careful in these times of economic hardship that the council spends its money wisely.”
Eileen Hutton, lead officer for the service, said: “It’s not about the baby getting a massage it’s about the parent making contact with their child. It is essential for helping the parent bond with the child.”
Councillor John McLuckie questioned why the classes were not being used across the district if they were so vital and beneficial.
Provost Pat Reid, committee convener, said: “I suspect that very little of the funding the council provides the outreach service is spent on the infant massage classes.”
Members backed the funding of the Aberlour service and the other 13 initiatives contained within the following the public pound report.
The report, compiled by Gary Greenhorn, sharing acting director of education duties with Nigel Fletcher, stated the initiatives shared a total fund of almost £1.8 million between them.
Aberlour Trust’s Early Years Outreach Service and Langlees Family Centre accounted for a total of £540,174 and Barnardo’s Oxgang Family Support Service and Cluaran initiative took in a total of £415,051.
Various Community Learning and Development projects, including Denny Community Support Group and Grangemouth-based Kersiebank Community project were also backed by the committee.