Falkirk leisure trust moves step nearer

The Mariner Centre in Camelon is one of those which would still be owned by the council but run by the new trust
The Mariner Centre in Camelon is one of those which would still be owned by the council but run by the new trust

The day the running of the district’s sports centres, parks, libraries and museums moves out of the town hall’s hands is a step closer.

A stormy meeting of Falkirk Council on Wednesday agreed by three votes to move the Falkirk Community Trust scheme to the next level.

Officers now have until before the council breaks for its summer holiday on June 27 to produce the final report on the scheme, which will see control of the area’s cultural and leisure activities taken over by a charitable trust from July 1 at an estimated cost of around £12 million a year.

The schedule was criticised by the SNP who claimed little or no consideration has been given to a plan which will impact on 500 council workers who will be managed by a new board of directors and managers.

Councillor Tom Coleman called for the ‘brakes to be put on the timetable outlined by chief executive Mary Pitcaithly.

He said: “Plenty of paperwork has been produced but has anyone really got a grasp of what is happening?

‘‘Am I the only one who is still in the dark about the impact of moving so many of our staff into the private sector will have?

“We’re being asked to absorb something today that basically we do not have a clue about. We should be excercising common sense on this and not rushing at the fences.”

Council leader Craig Martin accused the SNP of trying to stall the process.

He said: “I keep hearing ‘private, private, private’ but we’re not going to be dealing with a private company, we’re going to be working with a charity.

‘‘The business plan will protect employees and give them similar rights to the ones they enjoy now. We are not giving anything away, the properties will still be owned by the council.”

And Mrs Pitcaithly insisted the council was not being asked to take a final decision on the Falkirk Community Trust plan, but simply agree to recommendations in her progress report which will look at taking forward the organisational structure of the trust and agree to give union officials time off to continue talking with the council about the terms and conditions their members can expect when they make the switch.