Two out and two in for Falkirk Community Trust

Falkirk Community Trust oversees visitor attractions such as the Kelpies. Picture: Michael Gillen
Falkirk Community Trust oversees visitor attractions such as the Kelpies. Picture: Michael Gillen

The body responsible for Falkirk’s leisure centres, libraries, parks and public facilities welcomed two new directors to its board.

At a meeting of Falkirk Council yesterday (Wednesday) members agreed to appoint Councillor Robert Spears and Baillie Billy Buchanan as directors to sit on the Falkirk Community Trust Board.

Robert Spears

Robert Spears

The new appointments follow the resignations of Councillors Malcolm Nicol and Adrian Mahoney from their roles as directors - posts they had held for over three years.

Councillor Nicol said it was the right time for the board to be “refreshed”.

But he admitted: “It’s fair to say the Trust is not quite where I would like it to be yet. I think with £12 million of public money going to the Trust it really should be a partnership with the council.

“I’m a believer that those who pay the money should have their views fully taken on board, but I’m not quite sure that is always the case here. Since the Trust has become semi-detached from the council the democratic control has not been what I would like.

“While I have to acknowledge the savings the Trust makes and the general good work it does, I would ask those taking a post on the board to be mindful they are dealing with £12 million of public money and we are the people elected to ensure that money is spent wisely.”

Councillor Mahoney said business commitments were the main reasons for him stepping down. He said he hoped his resignation would give a chance for opposition members to take up the role.

He said: “We should get a good deal for the people of Falkirk. I’m stepping down with a heavy heart, but I will still work very closely with the Trust to make sure we get value for money from them.”

Councillor Mahoney also revealed he will be involved in a new council policy panel set up to scrutinise the Trust - a move which angered the SNP opposition group.

Councillor Tom Coleman said: “We have Councillor Mahoney stepping down from the Trust to serve on a review board which is going to scrutinise the Trust. It’s not good practice and I think the council’s auditors would take exception to it.”

Falkirk Community Trust, which was established by Falkirk Council, assumed responsibility for the management and operation of a range of community recreation, arts and heritage services in July 2011.

It is responsible for popular venues like the Hippodrome in Bo’ness, dry ski slope in Polmont and Callendar House in Falkirk.

Councillor Spears, nominated for his new role by Non Aligned Independent Group colleague Councillor Brian McCabe, said he welcomed the opportunity.

He said: “As former convener of the council’s environment and heritage committee, I had the honour of playing a large part in moves to bring about the Falkirk Wheel, Kelpies and Helix and bring World Heritage status to the Antonine Wall.

“I am sure my experience will help move the Trust on and administer this service to serve the district.”

Baillie Buchanan, who currently serves as the convener of planning at the council, famously tried to bring an alien-themed funpark to Bonnybridge at the dawn of the new millennium.

Councillor Spears and Baillie Buchanan will now join fellow elected members Provost Pat Reid, Councillor Linda Gow and Councillor Dennis Goldie on the Trust board.