Challenging times ahead for Borders sports trust

Ewan Jackson from Borders Sport and Leisure Trust at their new offices in Galashiels.
Ewan Jackson from Borders Sport and Leisure Trust at their new offices in Galashiels.
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Ten years old this September, Borders Sport and Leisure Trust has grown year-on-year, but the current economy is putting that at risk.

As a social enterprise, all profits are ploughed back into the trust’s facilities and programmes, but a cut in the management fee it receives from Scottish Borders Council has brought new challenges.

However, Ewan Jackson, chief executive, is confident the organisation, which operates independently of the SBC, can continue to develop.

He said: “There are pressures on key partners, other companies and individuals in our communities, and that impacts on us. There is no getting away from that.”

Mr Jackson added that the 10 per cent cut in the management fee from SBC would affect services.

“The board do have decisions to make, and are in the process of investigating all options which we think are right and proper,” Mr Jackson said.

“It could be that at the end of the day opening hours may need to be cut. There is an expectation on facilities that may not be sustainable in the longer term, but we, as stewards of those facilities, will do our upmost to develop and grow instead of cutting back.”

Mr Jackson also described how operating on a commercial basis helped the trust fund other parts of its work, and also subsidise some activities.

He added: “Commercially attractive and fairly priced activities help, and they can generate small operating profit margins which can be re-invested into sustaining our current workforce and facilities.”

Despite the challenging economic climate, the trust has employed more staff this year, and is continuing to look at cutting its costs in other ways.

“Energy costs have more than doubled in the past 10 years, and swimming pools in particular are energy hungry,” Mr Jackson said. “We are looking at energy saving methods in facilities.

“But there is still more that we can do and we are continuing to explore not only energy efficient ways of working but also environmentally friendly ones too.”