Councillors have agreed to hand over Jedburgh town hall to the operator of the town’s swimming pool on a 25-year lease, at a peppercorn rent.
Jedburgh Leisure Facilities Trust will be responsible for all maintenance and refurbishment and ongoing costs, although the council has committed £40,000 to help with repair works.
A management fee will also be paid to the trust by the council, starting at £30,000 in the first year and tapering down to nothing in 2019/20.
A report before the council’s executive committee on Tuesday stated: “The council is struggling to keep Jedburgh town hall, along with other town halls that are its responsibility, in good serviceable condition with the constraints in public expenditure brought about by the financial crisis.
“Against this backdrop there is no certainty in the long-term that the council would be in a position to keep operating all of its town halls.”
It added: “The trust plan to increase usage of the premises through making it more widely available to the Jedburgh and wider community through a more flexible management regime and building improvements.”
The trust is aiming to more than double the hall’s trading income by 2015/16.
Councillor Vicky Davidson said she was concerned about the £6,000-a-year reduction in management fee, commenting: “I wouldn’t like to set them up to fail.”
However Andrew Drummond-Hunt, head of property and facilities management, said the financial targets and council proposals had been agreed with the trust.
Councillor Stuart Bell said the trust’s track record meant the council could have a “degree of confidence” that they could make it work.
Councillor Donald Moffat added: “We are looking here at a trust which has considerable experience running the pool, and it has made a good success of that.
“The income under the council is low, in my opinion, for the hall. Over the last five years it is not good and I think a local group would be much better at running it.”
Jedburgh councillor Jim Brown added: “I think in the longer term the hall will be more easily let out by the trust than it would be by the council - the price has been one of the barriers over the years.”