Live Borders promises to maintain levels of service

Eyemouth Leisure Centre is run by the Live Borders charitable trust.
Eyemouth Leisure Centre is run by the Live Borders charitable trust.

Live Borders chief executive Ewan Jackson has given an assurance that job cuts will not have an adverse impact on the cultural services delivered by the trust.

Mr Jackson was responding to concerns raised at last week’s full meeting of Scottish Borders Council.

The council handed over its libraries, museums and arts development activities to the charitable trust, along with its sports facilities, on April 1 last year, but it is already cutting the amount it pays for those services.

To help the trust cope with that drop in income, councillors agreed to fund the departure of 12 Live Borders staff at a one-off cost of £338,000, after 32 members of staff applied for early retirement or voluntary severance.

Selkirkshire councillor Vicky Davidson, the authority’s executive member for culture, sport, youth and communities, noted that cultural services had been subject to budget cuts even before they were transferred to Live Borders.

“Given the cuts made before the transfer and the number of Live Borders staff who have applied to leave early, it’s hard not be concerned about the future,” she said.

“I am worried there just won’t be the leadership that cultural services require under the new structure.”

Staff costs account for almost two-thirds of Live Borders’ annual budget of around £10m, and a new staffing structure has been agreed by trustees after taking independent legal advice.

“We are working in challenging times and have had to look a new ways of working with less money coming to us,” said Mr Jackson. “We are confident we can deliver the same levels of service with a slimmer organisation.”