Trust could protect services for future

Old Gala House in Galashiels.
Old Gala House in Galashiels.

Councillors are today (Thursday) expected to agree to the establishment of a trust to run the authority’s cultural services by October 2015.

The move could avoid the closure of some libraries, museums and halls currently under the council’s control.

In a bid to find savings of £406,000, a review of the council’s cultural services found the creation of a trust and transfer of property, staff and services could save £276,000.

A second option, involving the retention and restructuring of services, could save £336,000, but would involve the closure of multiple services and cuts for others.

Cultural services include libraries, halls, museums, archives and arts development.

An appraisal of the two options saw the trust option come out on top.

In his report to councillors, Ian Brown, cultural services manager, says: “By transferring services to a trust it will be possible to secure the entire savings target for the review from rates remission.

“If the services are retained, the savings will have to be found from service withdrawal and/or reduction, facility closure and streamlined management and backroom support.”

Mr Brown adds: “At this time, all cultural services (with the exception of the integrated library/contact centres) are proposed to transfer to a new trust, though the scope of the proposed trust will remain under review during the next phase of work.”

Transferring combined libraries and contact centres to a trust has been examined separately, with no business case found for them to be transferred, with additional issues around data protection also proving a stumbling block.

It has been estimated that the cost of establishing a trust to run the various services would be around £70,000.

At today’s meeting, councillors will be asked to approve the principal of a move to a trust model, and that a further report will be brought back before members in August.

Should everything go ahead as planned, the trust could be launched by October next year.

The existing cultural services have a combined budget of almost £5million and are delivered from 58 facilities by more than 200 employees.