Culture and sport merge ‘progressing’

By integrating the sporting and cultural calendars of the Borders, the region will, boosted by the railway, become a more attractive destination for those living in the Edinburgh area as well as for visitors from the north of England.

That has been cited in a new report as one of the “key benefits” of Scottish Borders Council transferring all its non-statutory cultural services – including libraries, museums, art centres and public halls – to the trust which runs sports facilities across the region.

Talks with the Borders Sport and Leisure Trust (BSLT) began in February, with the council ordering a full feasibility report on the merger by October.

Councillors will hear today (Thursday) that establishing the terms of reference between the organisations had taken “longer than initially expected”.

“Now that these have been agreed, the feasibility work is progressing well and in a positive manner,” states Stephen Roy, who is managing the integration project for SBC.

Apart from detailing the benefits of integration, including joint marketing, co-location opportunities and the better programming of activities, Mr Roy notes: “Measures will need to be identified to avoid the risk of the focus on either culture or sport being diluted.”

His update also stresses that the VAT, capital funding, property maintenance, pension and financial support implications of integration will have to be addressed in October’s feasibility report.

The council’s cultural services currently employ around 200 people and cost £5million a year to run.

The BSLT, which has a similarly-sized workforce, pays a peppercorn rent for the sports facilities it inherited from SBC. Last year, it received an annual management fee from the council of £2.5million.