First it was the region’s swimming pools and leisure centres that were moved from council control to a trust in 2003 - now its libraries, museums and public halls.
To set up a new culture trust and transfer 58 Borders libraries, museums and halls over to it would cost around £70,000, but would save £276,000 - over 50% of the savings target of £406,000 for Scottish Borders Council’s cultural services.
A review of the council’s services has been done and an options appraisal carried out and the results go before councillors today (Thursday) with a recommendation that they approve in principle the transfer of cultural services to a trust.
Moving all cultural services to a trust scored higher than retaining them within the council largely because of the savings that the trust could achieve by applying for rates remission. This would enable services to continue at their current level.
Some libraries and halls are unlikely to be transferred to a trust. These include the five SBC libraries that were recently reconfigured to include SBC Contact Centres - Coldstream and Duns libraries fall into this category.
Twelve premises in Berwickshire could be affected by the proposed changes.
Those likely to be included in a new Borders wide cultural trust, if it goes ahead, are: Eyemouth library; Coldstream Museum; Jim Clark Room, Duns; Rodger Hall and Town Hall, Coldstream; Southfield Lodge, Duns (both offices and community centre); Eyemouth Community Centre; Fogo Community Centre; Coldstream Primary School community wing.
That leaves Duns Library, Coldstream Library, Duns Volunteer Hall and Chirnside Community Centre.
Both libraries are also SBC Contact Centres and the restrictions that creates because of data protection and the expectation that their range of services will increase means there is no business case for them to be transferred to the trust. Library services will be the responsibility of a library manager employed by the cultural trust.
Duns Volunteer Hall and Chirnside Community Centre are seen as candidates for being transferred to a community trust.
Chirnside Development Group has already indicated its willingness to take over the community centre and do £400,000 of refurbishment works to the building.
Similarly the ‘Heart of Duns’ community group is keen to ensure the Volunteer Hall remains a community asset.
The building is owned by the Ministry of Defence and leased to Scottish Borders Council but when the council announced in early 2009 they had no plans to renew the lease, the outcry in Duns resulted in a local group, ‘Heart of Duns’, being formed; part of their remit being to secure the future of the Duns Volunteer Hall.