Falkirk Community Trust’s successes as it works to replace council cash

Falkirk Community Trust has seen some big successes as it works to increase its income to replace shrinking council cash.

By Kirsty Paterson
Thursday, 24th October 2019, 5:00 pm
Callendar House has seen visitor numbers increase
Callendar House has seen visitor numbers increase

Its annual financial statement reveals fears for the future, warning a “reduction in funding for culture and sport could lead to closure of facilities, reduction in service, loss of income and planned deterioration.”

To mitigate this they are looking at ways to generate more business and get help from the community.

The Trust saw visitor numbers rise by nearly 80 per cent for tours of the Kelpies, while visitors to the Mariner Centre almost doubled, thanks to the popularity of the new soft play area which brought an increase of more than 22,000 admissions.

There was also a rise of over a third in visits to Callendar House, where afternoon teas in the refurbished drawing room are bringing in much-needed income.

The figures were reported to Falkirk Council’s external scrutiny committee by the Trust’s general manager Neil Brown who said: “We’re proud of our achievements and of what we do.”

Overall, the Trust’s health and leisure facilities are well used although some are in need of refurbishment.

Committee members questioning how well maintained the golf course at Callendar Park was were told due to a lack of funds it was only maintained for six months of the year and has deteriorated.

Councillor David Grant also questioned staff shortages in the tearoom of Callendar House, where visitor numbers have risen by 20 per cent in the year reported.

He said he had visited the tearoom when it was exceptionally busy, with people queueing, and he had noticed the room next door was “completely empty”. He said people were turning away.

Mr Brown said it was “valid criticism” and he had been told unexpected staff sickness had caused the situation.

He said: “We do need to have a back-up plan with casual staff so we can react quickly to solve situations like that.”

Mr Brown said services had continued to operate with reduced financial support and had worked hard to increase income by two per cent.

In a year when nearly half of board members were new to the role, he pointed out the Trust’s many success stories including the Helix welcoming its four millionth visitor and nearly 1600 events were held in the district’s libraries.