Leisure and library plan makes progress

Leisure and library services across Argyll and Bute may soon be delivered by a charitable trust,
Leisure and library services across Argyll and Bute may soon be delivered by a charitable trust,

Plans to create a charitable trust to deliver Argyll and Bute Council’s leisure and library services have taken a step forward.

At a meeting of the full council in Kilmory members approved the business case, which was carried out by Ernst and Young, and agreed to take forward the next steps to implement a trust.

A charitable trust is an independent, not-for-profit external organisation, widely used by local authorities to operate a range of public services.

They offer many financial and commercial benefits that can help to sustain the future of these services in the face of growing pressure on public spending.

The council’s Policy Lead for Community and Culture, Councillor Robin Currie said: “The model for Argyll and Bute includes four swimming pools and fitness suites; one sports centre; nine community halls/centres; 11 libraries; and one mobile library service.

“These are facilities that are critical to improving the overall health and fitness of our residents. They are social places where people meet and are a valued part of local communities. By creating a CT it means that these vital services can continue without budget restrictions.

“This approach has been adopted by most local authorities and has worked extremely well. There are many benefits to a CT.

“They can access more funding streams; they can be marketed as a single, branded body and can benefit from commercial revenue growth and improved financial performance.

“By creating a CT to deliver library and leisure services in Argyll and Bute, it will provide an opportunity to deliver even better services and deliver savings without any negative impact on frontline services.”

The relationship between the council and the trust would have its basis through a number of contractual documents:

- Lease agreements – ownership of the building assets would be retained by the council and will be leased or licensed to the trust;

- SLA – the Trust would require a range of support and administration services which it will initially procure from the council under a number of SLAs, commonly at nil cost;

- Operating Agreement – sets out the terms of the management agreement between the parties, contractual obligations, service specifications and performance information;

- Management fee – the council would pay for the services of the trust in the form of a management charge.