People across Falkirk want better facilities in their communities

The results of a controversial questionnaire have told Falkirk Council that most people do not want to travel further to use better facilities.

The online questionnaire – which was heavily criticised when it was released – had 1743 responses and 63 per cent of them said they would not be prepared to travel further to use improved leisure facilities.

People say they are not prepared to travel to use improved facilities, such as the upgrade work to the gym at Camelon's Mariner Centre

People say they are not prepared to travel to use improved facilities, such as the upgrade work to the gym at Camelon's Mariner Centre

The same figure said they would not be prepared to travel further to attend their local community group if it was based in a building with better facilites.

And 52 per cent agreed that the closeness of council and community trust facilities is more important than the quality of the services they provide.

However, those responding did agree that it was wise for the council and Community Trust to look at how they can share buildings and resources more effectively.

There was also strong support for investing in buildings that can be used for the biggest variety of activities, with 70 per cent agreeing this was important.

And it was also generally agreed that communities should be given the opportunity to run and manage council or community trust buildings that are facing closure.

The online consultation ran alongside focus groups in Denny, Bo’ness and Grangemouth, and those taking part agreed that schools could be used more.

However, they did raise concerns about access to school buildings outside school hours and public transport links.

There was strong support for the council retaining Bo’ness and Grangemouth Town Halls and people in the Bo’ness focus group also felt that libraries were an important resource.

They argued that a building should not be disposed of if there is no alternative building offering the same services and there were concerns raised about how much is expected of volunteers.

Just over one-third of those responding said they would be consider volunteering to help run community facilities.

Councillor Joan Coombes was critical of the online questionnaire when it was released, saying the questions were so vague that the results would be almost meaningless.

When the results were presented to Falkirk Council on Wednesday she said: “I have been vindicated in my criticisms of this consultation.

“I said at the very start that I don’t think this consultation is fit for purpose, as the results show.”

But Conservative group leader Lynn Munro felt the responses were useful.

“I think it’s very positive we have this report and the views of our communities,” she said.

“There are a few surprises – people don’t want to travel long distances to large hubs.

“People with young children and elderly people want facilities that are closer to home and this message came through very clearly.”

Members of all parties agreed, however, that it was time to move the review of council properties forward and they agreed to note the report.

The council will continue to look at how to use schools more effectively as a community resource and will try to identify buildings that are under-used or in poor condition.

A workshop will be held for local members to look closely at the proposals for the strategic property review.