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New leisure trust accord; SPORTS BLOW But Active Stirling face PS430k cut.

Byline: John Rowbotham

Active Stirling is to continue to run Stirling Council's leisure facilities - but faces a PS430,000 cut in its funding.

The two organisations have concluded the terms for the creation of the new charitable trust.

Active Stirling, with Stirling Council as overall sole member of the charity, will deliver sport, physical activity and wellbeing services across the council area.

It is understood the new set-up gives the council more control of the strategic direction of the trust and its priorities.

However, day-to-day running of the facilities will remain in the hands of Active Stirling's staff of 150 fulltime equivalents and a board led by current chairman Ken Lewandowski and comprising councillors, members of the public and people from other organisations. Efforts to recruit a new board will get underway soon.

The council announced the new set-up on Thursday as a consultation over a proposed funding cut for Active Stirling was coming to an end.

As part of the priority-based budgeting options under consideration, Active Stirling will lose PS30,000 of funding in the 12 months from April this year, and PS100,000 in each of the four financial years which follow.

If those cuts are agreed, it means Active Stirling will lose around 30 per cent of the PS1.397 million it currently get from the council for running facilities such as the Peak and Stirling Sports Village and sports programmes.

Convenor of Stirling Council's community planning and regeneration committee Chris Kane, said: "This is a great step towards a renewed and reinvigorated partnership between Stirling Council and Active Stirling.

"We both want to maximise the participation, health and overall wellbeing benefits of sport and physical activity across our communities and our local economy."

He added: "It will not be up to the council to run Active Stirling. They are a separate organisation with a board and a management team but we will set our priorities and expect the to go with us in that direction of travel. One of our priorities will always be to make it as easy as possible to access sports facilities and I am looking forward to working with Active Stirling to achieve that."

Mr Lewandowski added: "This is a great way forward for us all to work together and make sure we deliver the very best of services for the people of Stirling, and continue our focus to change lives through getting as many people at all different stages in their lives to get involved in some way with physical activity and sport."

Chief executive of Active Stirling Andrew Bain acknowledged its budget was up for discussion but insisted no final decisions had been taken.

"We continue to work with the council to find positive solutions that will allow us to continue to deliver the same level of service that we currently provide," he added.

Delivering and running leisure facilities in city Not-for-profit trust Active Stirling has run the council's sports and leisure facilities for 12 years.

However, in December, 2015, Stirling Council's then Labour-Tory administration agreed an official's recommendation to put the services out to tender.

SNP councillors argued there was no need for the move as it risked allowing the service to be taken over by a private firm.

However, officials claimed it was the only way to achieve best value for the contract, worth more than PS1.3 million a year.

In February last year, following an evaluation of bids, officers recommended awarding the 25-year, PS25 million contract to private firm Sports and Leisure Management.

However, the prospect of sports facilities falling into private hands caused outrage across the city with trades unions bitterly opposed to the move.

And more than 1800 people signed a petition in support of Active Stirling At a council meeting on February 9, 2017, councillors decided unanimously not to award the contract to the private firm, and instead work towards setting up a Stirling-based charitable trust to run the services. It was last week that the council and Active Stirling finally unveiled the new set-up.

Councillor Bryan Flannagan, Stirling Council Scottish Conservative Group spokesperson for sports and physical activity said:"At last, Active Stirling can get on with what it does best and deliver opportunities for people of all ages and abilities across the council area, providing what people want, where they want it and at an affordable price.

"The huge contradiction is that this administration is seeking to cut nearly a third of the budget for Active Stirling in another of its shambolic budget proposals that they should abandon."

Great step towards a renewed and reinvigorated partnership

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New deal Active Stirling will continue to run facilities such as The Peak on behalf of Stirling Council but faces a funding cut
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Publication:Stirling Observer (Stirling, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 7, 2018
Words:790
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