Helix trust wants to hand over reins

Charlotte Laing and Grante Woodburn helped launch Helix plans in 2007
Charlotte Laing and Grante Woodburn helped launch Helix plans in 2007

The trust responsible for the multi-million pound Helix project will soon cease to exist if board members get their wish.

In a controversial move, the Helix Trust wants to hand over responsibility for the running of the project to the Falkirk Community Trust, which came into being last summer to look after the area’s cultural, library, recreation and sport services.

At a meeting of Falkirk Council on Monday, members voted to approve, in principle, moving control of the project from the Helix Trust to Falkirk Community Trust and then dissolving the Helix Trust.

Councillor Craig R Martin, a Helix Trust board member said: “The project is on budget and on schedule and we are starting to see real changes to the site. We have found a ready-made option to run the project – a charity trust with experience running large sites and it shares similar values to the Helix Trust.

“Falkirk Community Trust offers the lowest risk to the council and the lowest risk to British Waterways. It would mean the end of the board I sit on, but it is the best way forward.”

Falkirk SNP Group leader David Alexander responded: “The project is not on schedule – or at least, not on the original schedule. If ever a report highlighted what is wrong with this authority it’s this one.

“Where are the chief executives of Falkirk Community Trust and the Helix Trust to answer our questions? What we have here is a report lacking detail asking us to take an in principle decision.

“There is nothing at all in this report which gives the views of project partners like British Waterways. Why would we make this change at a time when Falkirk Community Trust has not even established itself yet?”

Councillor Alexander put forward an amendment asking for more time to consult with all parties involved and gather more information, but his request was outvoted.

The multi-million pound Helix Project aims to transform 300 hectares of under-used land between Falkirk and Grangemouth into an exciting new parkland and visitor attraction set to open in 2013.

Once completed, it is hoped the Helix will be an outdoor recreational area open to all, offering easy access to picturesque woodland, a central park with a lagoon, linked walking paths and cycleways and will also open up Scotland’s canal network by installing a new full-length canal link and a canal hub featuring the massive Kelpie statues.

The Helix Trust was formed back in 2008 to oversee the project and was initially going to give way to another body, Helix Futures, when the time came to run the long-awaited Helix development.

In a letter to Helix partners, Falkirk Council and British Waterways, Helix Trust interim chief executive David Lamont, general manager of British Waterways, said Helix Futures was not the best option to take things forward and recommended Falkirk Community Trust be the successor.

He stated: “During the project phase it would be intended Falkirk Council and British Waterways would continue to manage the capital project, as is the case at the moment.

“Once the capital project has been delivered, Falkirk Community Trust would take on responsibility for the day-to-day running of the Helix in keeping with its vision and values.”