Moray SNP News
Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson and Councillors Sonya Warren (Buckie) and Theresa Coull (Keith & Cullen) have called for the Independent/Tory Administration on Moray Council to provide more support to groups wishing to take over community facilities.
Moray Council’s ruling group voted to close seven halls and two community centres in their budget on 14 February. The Fisherman’s Hall, Buckie Town House, Findochty Town Hall and Cullen Community & Residential Centre are all on the Council Administration’s hit list.
The Independent/Tory Administration have made it clear that if there is no interest in a Community Asset Transfer (CAT) shown by 30 June then these vital community facilities will close.
With community groups only having four months to save their halls and community centres, groups are now being told by the Council that no support to navigate through the CAT process will be made available to them by the Community Support Unit (CSU).
This has caused great disappointment in the communities involved. Therefore, Stewart Stevenson MSP has written to Moray Council Leader, Cllr George Alexander, calling on his Administration to provide more support to community groups who are willing to save their halls.
Commenting Stewart Stevenson MSP said:
“It’s bad enough that the Independent/Tory Administration voted to close these halls and community centres but not to be willing to provide support to the very community groups they expect to take on the running of these facilities beggars belief.
“These facilities are vitally important to the communities they are in and people have not been given much time to save their halls. It’s hugely important that as much support as possible is given to community groups that do come forward. Therefore, it’s extremely disappointing that the Administration are refusing support when it’s being asked for.
“The communities are stepping up to the plate to save their halls. It’s time that Independent and Tory councillors, who have forced the communities in to this situation, fulfilled their responsibilities by providing the support needed.”
Cllr Sonya Warren (Buckie) said:
“It is hugely concerning that the Tory/independent Administration voted to close a raft of public facilities if the community don't take them on within the short timescale by 30th June.
“Community Asset Transfers are huge projects that demand lots of time, knowledge and commitment. What the Administration have failed to do is to put support in place for communities to ensure sustainable projects are developed.
“Both the Fishermen's Hall in Buckie and Findochty Hall are integral to the relevant community's lives. It is unthinkable that these facilities could face closure by June and I will be doing everything I can to support groups willing to keep them open.”
Cllr Theresa Coull (Keith & Cullen) commented:
“I am really worried about the timescale provided by the Tory/independent Administration.
“If communities take on the running of their own halls and community centre they have to make this decision before the end of June or the facility will be closed. A Community Asset Transfer is not a quick process and I believe communities need to be given more time to go through this process.
“Cullen Community Centre is not only a community centre but a residential centre and needs to have bookings coming in to make the CAT sustainable. Therefore, the Council should not stop taking bookings while there is a possibility of a CAT.
“The community are disadvantaged if they are not given time and support to go through this process and I urge the Council’s Independent/Tory councillors to give the communities the support they deserve.”