Trust takes charge of Falkirk’s leisure services

Mariner Centre staff Alan Donaldson and Casey Stewart mark the launch of the new trust
Mariner Centre staff Alan Donaldson and Casey Stewart mark the launch of the new trust
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Leisure services officially transfer to a new charitable trust tomorrow (Friday) – but Falkirk Council said it will be “business as usual”.

Officials stressed customers in the district’s sports centres, libraries, museums and tourist attractions will notice no difference.

Only the branding on buildings will change as the Falkirk Council logo is replaced with that of Falkirk Community Trust.

Around 500 council staff will also transfer to the new organisation but their terms and conditions remain the same.

The local authority’s Labour administration brought forward the move to make savings on non-domestic rates and VAT, which they anticipate will be in the region of £1 million annually. The charitable body will also be able to access forms of funding not available to councils.

Councillor Adrian Mahoney, convener of leisure, tourism and community, said he was confident it would be a smooth transition period.

He said: “Council staff have made tremendous efforts to put everything in place within very tight timescales and their commitment is appreciated.

“The council believe the new trust presents a great opportunity to build on the excellent work done in the past and to bring forward new ideas and initiatives. The trust will be able to access funding from sources not open to the council and any additional investment might allow us to develop new projects in all areas of the trust’s work, while at the same time, providing the existing services which our agreement requires.”

A board, chaired by local historian Ian Scott, is made up of councillors, employees and independent members of the public to look after the running of the trust.

Mr Mahoney is joined on the board by Provost Pat Reid and Councillor Malcolm Nicol. However, the SNP group has refused to take up its two positions.

Previously, Nationalists have labelled the new trust as “privatisation” of the services.

But Council Leader, Councillor Craig Martin said the SNP was letting people down by not taking part. He said: “The council rules means the membership issue cannot be revisited for six months so we are effectively under-represented on the board.”

Councillor David Alexander said his SNP group was still considering its position and was looking for clarification from officials before making a decision.

Services transferring to the trust include: the Mariner Centre, Grangemouth Sports Complex and Stadium, Callendar House, Callendar, Kinneil and Muiravonside Parks and the Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness.

Services remaining within the council include library support for schools, community learning and development, community centres and halls, bereavement services and all other local parks and play areas.