Dumfries and Galloway Councillors next week will be told that communities are continuing to take ownership of local facilities right across the region. Members of the Council’s Communities committee will hear that good progress is being made in implementing the Community Facilities Review.
Between 2013 and 2015, 29 community facilities were transferred to the local community. During 2017/18, a further 16 community facilities were also transferred, and plans are progressing well to transfer 7 facilities to the local community before March 2019. Discussions continue with each community and work is well underway to transfer the final 9 facilities during 2019/20.
At the committee meeting, Councillors will be provided with a progress update on how the rollout is being progressing as well as specific updates on the transfer of Newtown Stewart Community Centre, Applegarth Hall, Moffat Town Hall and Whithorn Community facilities:
The Community Centre in Newton Stewart was closed on 21 March 2014. The Newton Stewart Community Centre Management Committee disbanded and all users were found alternate accommodation within Newton Stewart. Councillors will be asked to agree that Newton Stewart Community Centre is surplus to requirement and should be disposed of, in accordance with Council policy.
In January 2018, the building suffered significant damage as a result of lathe and plaster failure within the walls and ceiling and coupled with deteriorating floors which forced the immediate closure of the facility. There were very few users of the facility, all of whom have now found alternate accommodation within the community. The Management Agreement for the facility was terminated in May 2018. Councillors will be asked to agree that Applegarth Hall is surplus to requirements and should be subject of the council’s disposal and acquisition policy.
Moffat Town Hall:
Moffat Development Trust have intimated that they would be keen to work with the Council to asset transfer the building. The Trust currently have a lease agreement in place with the Council until 2033 which cannot be terminated until at least 2022. However, Members will be asked to give their approval to this proposed asset transfer in the future and allow council officers to work with the Moffat Development Trust on this. As such, it is proposed that the building is removed from the Community Facility Review process.
Whithorn Community Facilities:
Whithorn New Town Hall – committee agreed in March 2017 that the facility by transferred to ‘All Roads lead to Whithorn Charitable Trust’ for a nominal sum, with the condition that the required capital funding for the project is secured by 31 July 2018. The Trust requested an extension to allow them to investigate further funding opportunities. Councillors will be told that the Trust have been successful in their Stage 1 application to the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund. Officers are continuing to support the Trust in their applications for major funding to develop the New Town Hall within the heart of the community.
South Machars Community Centre – Officers continue to work very closely with the Community of Whithorn to investigate the viability and sustainability of the community managing the Community Centre. Work has taken place to establish a constituted management committee. This committee are working with third sector organisations to help them grow and are looking at the feasibility within the community to potentially asset transfer the building in the future. The management committee have confirmed that they will manage the facility initially on a short-term standardised management agreement.
Chair of the Communities committee, Andy Ferguson, said “When the Community Facilities Review was agreed, our Council encouraged local groups to consider the possibility of running a community facility. The response from communities taking on the running of community centres and facilities in the last couple of years has been very positive. The benefits of this are clear to see for both the community and the Council. I’ve spoken to some groups who are now managing their local facility and the feedback has been very positive – they feel they are able to provide services from these buildings according to what and when their local community want. I look forward to Councillors being provided with this report that recognises the positive outcome for local people whilst delivering a saving for our Council.”
Vice Chair, John Martin, said “The Community Facilities Review is not simply about the Council handing over its buildings. Our officers have been working closely with local groups to establish effective management teams and working with them so that they are able to successfully manage the assets and ensure the future sustainability and viability of the buildings in their local communities. These management groups have a great sense of ownership and tremendous pride in being able to provide buildings that the whole community will be able access and ensure maximum usage.”
Any community interested in taking on the running of their local facility should call the Council on 030 33 33 3000 and ask for their Local Ward Manager.