Council’s community building cuts goes against spirit of empowerment says MSP

South of Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has expressed dismay at the announcement that Dumfries and Galloway Council plans to close a number of well-loved community venues unless local volunteers agree to take on responsibility for running the buildings.

Any facilities which the local authority fails to transfer to local committees by 31 January 2016 will be closed the following month in a bid to make savings of £283,000.

The announcement comes as the Scottish Government is taking forward action in number of areas around community empowerment, notably with the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act – most parts of which will come into effect next summer.  The aim of the legislation is to empower communities through ownership or control of buildings and land and strengthening community voices in decisions about public services.

Commenting, South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine said:

“In many cases these town halls and community centres are a lifeline for the local community.

“The timetable for communities to organise themselves and take over the running of the buildings prior to the threatened closure seems very, very tight.

“In fact, the timing seems designed to ensure that the halls close.

“This goes against the spirit of the Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment Act that gives communities the opportunity to buy and run buildings owned by local authorities.”

The affected venues include Thornhill Community Centre and Nelson House in Eastriggs.

Ms McAlpine said:

“I will write to the community representatives affected in Dumfriesshire to seek their views and offer my assistance.” 

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