Fatal attractions as figures fall

Latest figures show admissions to the Mariner Centre and other Trust operated facilities have dropped dramatically
Latest figures show admissions to the Mariner Centre and other Trust operated facilities have dropped dramatically

The company in charge of the district’s recreation and leisure services failed to hit nearly half of its performance targets last year.

Figures released by Falkirk Community Trust show the number of people paying to use 13 of its 27 facilities dropped between April 2014 and March 2015.

A ‘traffic light’ marking system was used to record admissions to everything from libraries to leisure centres, gyms to circuit clubs and sports halls to town halls.

Under achievers ‘red flagged’ included the Mariner Centre in Camelon, Grangemouth Sports Complex and the Hippodrome in Bo’ness.

While Grangemouth Stadium, Grangemouth Gym, Kinneil Museum and Bo’ness Recreation Centre enjoyed a boost in numbers, a 60-page report charting popularity trends reveals a total of nine facilities underachieved by ten per cent or more, four, including Falkirk Town Hall, finished the year between five and ten per cent below target and placed on ‘amber’ alert with 14 others awarded ‘green’ status for being within five per cent of target or above it.

Bosses told Falkirk Council’s scrutiny committee that other attractions that also suffered an alarming drop in popularity and saw visitor numbers fall “significantly below” expectations included Callendar House, the Park Gallery and Grangemouth Town Hall.

While facilities at Grangemouth Stadium and Bo’ness Recreation Centre continued to prove popular - and a snapshot of the number of customers using Trust premises in the second quarter of this year paints a more encouraging picture - bosses admit that 2014-15 year-end performance was disappointing next to what has been achieved before.

The Trust’s performance review team leader Alistair Mitchell told councilors: “The 2014-15 year-end performance is less positive than previous year’s successes.

“Approximately half of indicators remain green flagged against target, but actual performance, number of admissions, visits and bookings, has decreased in real terms for almost two-thirds of indicators.

“This trend is being closely monitored by Trust management and, where possible, action being taken where necessary.”

Neil Brown, the Trust’s general manager, said turnover was up by around 50 per cent and the business had doubled in the last four years. He told the committee that because the Trust is a company limited by guarantee and has charitable status it has saved Falkirk Council £2.5 million in rates.

He said the Home Coming, Commonwealth Games baton relay and opening of the Helix had all been success stories. He said significant capital investment from the council that had allowed the refurbishment of the wave machine at the Mariner had been a “spectacular success” and the new running track laid at Grangemouth Stadium had “saved” that facility.

Over the next three years the Trust faces a £2.1 million cut in council funding, but ahead of its 2016-17 business plan being presented, Mr Brown insisted: “ We believe we manage our budgets prudently. A five-year strategy has been agreed to ensure the Trust is a financially stable organisation.”