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Culture trust for halls, libraries and museums

Coldstream Museum

Coldstream Museum

Plans to create a culture trust to run libraries, museums, archives, public halls and community centres in the Borders are currently being debated.

Scottish Borders Council looked at various options for the future of these services and concluded that the best way of maintaining services at the current level while achieving £470,000 of savings was to move them to a specially created charity, which would have company limited by guarantee status with a trading arm. The majority of the savings - around £350,000 - will be made by reducing current rates down to the rate paid by charities.

Your views on the proposals and their impact of services are being sought and you have until July 31, to let the council know what you think.

“If we keep the services within the council the savings will have to be found from reducing what we do just now, closing facilities and streamlining management and backroom support,” SBC officers told councillors.

Nine Scottish council have already transferred their cultural services to a trust and others are at the same stage as Scottish Borders Council of considering making the move.

The proposal will go back to the council in August for a decision on which services to include, and it should be up and running by October 2015.

The proposals are being discussed at area forums and committees of the nine community centres involved - including Southfield at Duns, and Eyemouth.

At Berwickshire Are Forum last week, Ian Brown, SBC’s cultural services manager, said: “It’s important that we were able to fund the service and protect front line services while at the same time create a structure that was sustainable.”

“We would hope to bring in a range of skills to the trust which would be contracted by the council to deliver a range of services.”

Pauline Hood from Cockburnspath Community Council asked: “Is the council going to transfer all its buildings or just the operation?”

Mr Brown replied: “The building will be leased to the trust for 25 years and museum collections will remain in stewardship of the council. They won’t have assets but they can borrow against the buildings.”

“The trust will be responsible to the council and trustees appointed through open and transparent process so there is a level of public accountability.”

Culture services staff will transfer to the trust, although that may not be all 209 staff.

 

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