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Council seeks feedback on trust plan

Scottish Borders Council headquarters at Newtown St Boswells.

Scottish Borders Council headquarters at Newtown St Boswells.

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) is seeking feedback on its proposals to transfer the council’s cultural services to a trust.

The proposals were agreed at a meeting of council on February 27 on the basis that a period of community consultation was undertaken and a more detailed business case for the new organisation compiled.

A progress report is due to be taken back to council in autumn this year with a view to the trust being operational by October 2015.

Meetings are now being held with the management committees of those community centres which might transfer into the new trust. Officers from SBC cultural services are also in the process of briefing the public meetings of each of the five SBC area forums over the next two months.

Members of the public are welcome to attend and hear more about the proposals. Meetings with Eildon and Tweeddale have already been held but forums still to take place are Cheviot Area Forum, Tait Hall, Kelso, 4 June, 6.30pm; Berwickshire Area Forum, Council Chambers, Newtown Street, Duns, 5 June, 6.30pm; Teviot & Liddesdale Area Forum, Lesser Hall, Town Hall, Hawick, 17 June, 6.30pm.

The public are able to have their say on the proposals by completing an online consultation form at: www.scotborders.gov.uk/culturetrust or by emailing their views to: culturalservicesre@scotborders.gov.uk. They can also write to the Cultural Services manager, Scottish Borders Council, Newtown St Boswells TD6 0SA.

Councillor Vicky Davidson, executive member for culture, sport, youth and communities explained: “We are recommending the set up of a Borders culture trust for a number of reasons linked both to service improvement and sustainability.

“Not only will we be able to make the most of savings from business rates remission – a charitable trust will pay only a small percentage of the current bill – the move means that we can protect the valuable services we provide from cuts or even closure and put the services on a positive footing for the future.

“In addition, the advice we have been taking from other local authorities who have already successfully gone down this road would indicate that a new organisation, focussed entirely on cultural services, will give a renenewed sense of purpose to staff, be more flexible and responsive to ideas from the public and have the ability to raise additional funding from outside sources.

“The ownership of buildings will stay with the council but they will be leased to the trust in a way which has already proved successful with the three Borders sport and leisure trusts.

“We are happy to answer any questions about the proposals and I would encourage people to contact the Council with their views and queries using any of the methods mentioned above.”

 

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