Cash crisis to force transfer

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Cash pressures could force the council to transfer a number of facilities and services from the authority to a charitable leisure trust.

The proposals – described as “a sensible and pragmatic
approach by West Lothian Council Leader Councillor John McGinty – are claimed set to “modernise and safeguard” services.

Picture: Michael Gillen

Picture: Michael Gillen

West Lothian Leisure (WLL), which currently only manages key sport and leisure facilities leased from West
Lothian Council at the Xcite facilities, including Linlithgow’s, will take them over completely if the plans are agreed at next week’s Council Executive meeting.

The proposals include facilities at Linlithgow’s Low Port Centre and Outdoor Education, Howden Park Centre, golf facilities at Polkemmet Country Park and other facilities within secondary schools, including swimming pools and sports halls.

These include: Howden Park Centre, Low Port Centre and Outdoor Education, golf facilities at Polkemmet Country Park and various sport and leisure facilities within secondary schools such as swimming pools and sports halls.

Council staff will transfer to WLL to allow for a smooth transition and continued delivery. Executive councillor for culture and leisure Dave King said: “The changes will not greatly affect customers, the level of investment and delivery of these services will continue. The difference will be in who delivers the services in future.

“Funding from the Scottish Government is not enough to meet the council’s budget pressures and the council has less funding to spend on services.”

He added: “This is a sensible approach to safeguard public run leisure, sport and cultural services in West Lothian.”

The proposals are in line with many other local authority areas across Scotland where, in recent years, trust models have been modernised and their remits widened.

The changes, which will save the council £532,000, would come in from April next year and would need to be approved by WLL’s Board.

Mr McGinty said: “The council’s priority is to retain first class sport, leisure and cultural facilities in West Lothian, which are essential for the health, wellbeing and quality of life of communities. In the current climate the best way to protect services is to transfer their management to a modernised West Lothian Leisure.”