Parents bid to save games hall from closing

Deal to lease facility to schools parent council for �1 a year is moving closer
Deal to lease facility to schools parent council for �1 a year is moving closer

Parents want to take charge of the sports facility next door to their kids school.

Comely Park Primary School Parent Council has ‘teamed up’ with Falkirk Football Club’s Community Foundation to offer to run Woodlands Games Hall.

A deal is being put together that will see the building off Cochrane Avenue currently leased by Falkirk Community Trust (FCT) rented to a newly formed community enterprise, Woodlands Community Sports Limited, for £1 a year for the next 25 years.

Falkirk Council will contribute £22,000 to allow the new company to qualify for £178,000 worth of grant aid from the Landfill Communities Fund which will be spent resurfacing the all-weather pitch, buying new goalposts and replacing the perimeter fence to bring the area back into full use.

It is also prepared to pay a £14,500 rates bill to cover the first six months of operations while WCS applies for charitable status, make a £10,000 contribution towards building repairs and pay £10,000 a year rent to make sure pupils at Comely Park have use of the hall for PE two hours a week.

The parent council and community foundation intend to register WCS Limited as a charity to qualify for rates relief and create a “busy, vibrant and sustainable” centre open seven days a week for external hires and community use.

The future of the hall was in doubt last year after the trust admitted financial pressures meant it was struggling to keep it open.

It was one of four facilities targeted for closure to save money, but after that was rejected by the council, the parents and the football club stepped up with a business case to operate it on behalf of the community as a financially viable and sustainable social enterprise.

Councillors have backed the plan.

Rhona Geisler, director of development services, said: “On the basis of the financial pressures facing the council and FCT, a solution to ensure ongoing availability of the facility for use by Comely Park Primary School is needed.

“In principle the proposal to establish WCS Limited and progress the transfer will meet this need and give the community the opportunity to actively engage in operating the hall and pitch for the benefit of the local area.

“The social, educational and regeneration benefits are sufficient to substantiate the proposed lease arrangements.”