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Published 15 November 2019

 

Councillors have approved proposals to keep all of the Council’s Community Centres open and find savings of £130,000 per year from working more efficiently.

In addition, more than £5 million will be invested in upgrading the centres in the coming three years to make them more attractive to use.

The decision aligns with two public consultations in which residents and groups said they didn’t want to see their local centres close, and wanted more money spent on the buildings.

A review of the Council’s existing 12 Community Facilities highlighted that savings could be made by introducing a more efficient operating model. The new approach will maximise  the use of staff pools so centres are typically opened when there are bookings on. This will allow a small number of employees to leave through voluntary early retirement. There will also be a review of opening hours in line with demand, a review of charges and the use of keyholding for some groups using the halls.

Councillors rejected a proposal to make a further saving by aligning the opening hours at the Glenhead Community Centre to those of Duntocher Library which is based in the centre.

Councillor Ian Dickson, Convener of Corporate Services, said: “I’m delighted to see the Council protecting every single Community Centre and investing £5m to make them better venues for our residents. This decision takes on board the feedback from residents who have made it clear how much they value their local community centres.

“At the same time it is also important that the Council spends public money carefully, and so it was reassuring to hear that by introducing a new model we can save £130,000 a year without closing any centre. This all helps to make our community centres more sustainable for the future.”

Councillor Iain McLaren, Vice- Convener of Corporate Services, added: “I’m pleased that a significant saving has been achieved without the need to close a single Community Centre.

“It was also good to hear that Council officers will be meeting with local groups over the next year to see if any are interested in taking ownership of existing Council buildings through community transfer and lease. By taking on such buildings these groups can determine the future of the venues, and also access external funding not open to Councils that would bring further investment into West Dunbartonshire.”