Dennyloanhead hall would close if Falkirk Council cut vital funding

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A community hall that is used by nearly 800 people every week would almost certainly have to close if council support was cut by even 10 per cent.

Councillors on the external scrutiny committee were given the warning during the meeting which was looking at how the local authority cash is being spent.

As well as hosting an afterschool club, a popular youth group and a playscheme that attracted 70 youngsters daily during the holidays,  Dennyloanhead Community Hall is also used to distribute food parcels to vulnerable families and make sure that children did not go hungry during the school holidays.

The hall – also known as the Archibald Russell Centre – regularly hosts a yoga group and adult education classes among other regular events, members of the Falkirk Council committee heard.

The council contributed £11,330 last year to help run the hall, a sum that has been decreasing gradually over the years.

Councillors heard that the management committee actively looks for other funds and has just received a national lottery grant of more than £10,000 for refurbishment.

However, the fabric of the building is in great need of repairs and the committee expects to be fundraising for the next three years to find the cash.

The committee also heard about the work of the Denny Community Support Project which provides services such as a credit union, a job club, IT support for unemployed people, an additional needs youth groups, youth clubs and playschemes among others.

The project, also known as the community flat, has had lots of success in attracting funding from outside sources to fund things such as playscheme workers and family group.

Both organisations face the problem that core funding is much more difficult to come by than grants for individual projects and the report warns that reducing funding further could lead to the projects closing.

Councillor Allyson Black, who represents Grangemouth, said: “I think it looks like they are a great resource for the community.

“It’s important we continue to fund them but there are other community halls and some are having to resource themselves and they are struggling.

“It’s about equality – we have to ask ourselves, if we’re doing that amount of good work in two halls in Denny what are we doing in the rest of the district?

“We have cut Community Learning and Development and it’s such an important resource.

“There are other areas that need help and as the council of the future, we need to help the most vulnerable.”

As spending cuts bite, the local authority is urging communities to take over the running of many facilities.

Westfield Community Centre, which receives no council cash, is run by a committee which recently received a £150,000 Lottery funding boost.

Other community halls are looking for more people to become involved and to make use of them to ensure the continued success of facilities.