Jed town hall takeover talks are abandoned

Jedburgh Town Hall
Jedburgh Town Hall

Plans to lease Jedburgh Town Hall to the organisation which runs the town’s swimming pool have been scrapped.

Scottish Borders Council’s executive agreed to Tuesday that the building should, instead, form part of the wider transfer of all its cultural services properties, including halls, libraries and community centres, to a new Borders-wide trust.

In so doing, councillors have set aside their decision of 18 months ago when they agreed to offer a 25-year lease to the Jedburgh Leisures Facilities Trust (JLFT) which took over the pool in 2003. But despite extensive negotiations, no agreement has been reached.

In line with other community asset transfers made by SBC, the Jedburgh lease involved revenue support of £30,000 for the first year, tapering to zero over five years. In addition, a capital sum of £40,000 which the council was prepared to discuss to upgrade the building was deemed “inadequate” by the JLFT which wanted an ongoing commitment from the council in respect of upgrades, repairs and maintenance.

Given the impasse, councillors were told this week that a resolution was required before October 8 when the council is due to consider a feasibility study on the transfer of all its cultural services to a trust run jointly with Borders Sport and Leisure Trust.

But the recommendation of council officers not to pursue the transfer to JLFT was opposed by Jedburgh councillor Jim Brown: “Myself and the other two Jedburgh councillors [Sandy Scott and Rory Stewart] still feel the JLFT should take over. If the hall gets transferred to a bigger trust it may take years for it to get the investment it deserves.

“The JLFT has run the pool successfully for 12 years and is prepared to make this work. You cannot blame them for trying to get more money out of the council.”

But Councillor Michael Cook (East Berwickshire) said: “Things have changed in the last 18 months and there are very clear divisions in the community and among stakeholders about the wisdom of such a transfer.”

Richard Gordon, chair of Jedburgh Community Council, said: “A more local operation for the hall would have been great, but the risks coming from the current offer far outweighed the benefits.”