March 13, 2013
The wheels of asset transfer must quicken
Seven years ago, the Stirlingshire community of Gargunnock faced a scenario that is becoming all too familiar right across the country. The local council, no longer able to meet the running costs of the village’s community centre, chose the path of least resistance – closure. It’s taken seven long years for the community to convince the Council that the centre would be safe in their hands and with £500k now raised and spent on refurbishment, the fight for their centre is over. But why did it have to take seven years?
Last Saturday residents in Gargunnock celebrated the re-opening of their Community Centre after a £500,000 refurbishment project which also saw the Centre transfer ownership from Stirling Council to the Village Trust.
The Opening marked the end of a 7 year campaign by the community to own and refurbish the centre after it was threatened with closure by the Council in 2006. Ownership of the 150 year old building was officially transferred to the Community Trust in March 2012.
The refurbishment of the centre has allowed for an expansion of the available space for community events as well as making it more flexible in terms of the types and number of events which can be held. Improvements have also been made to the entrance foyer, kitchen and staged area with two new offices being created which will be rented out to local businesses. The new look centre will also benefit from a number of energy efficiency features such as insulation, new lighting and a heating system which will ensure that not only will the new centre have a reduced carbon footprint but will have reduced operating costs as well.
Funding was raised though the Gargunnock Estate Trust, Forth Valley and Lomond Leader, Awards for All, Sports Scotland and Creative Scotland, The Stafford Trust, The People & Communities Fund and the Climate Challenge Fund, as well as local fundraising.
Iain Gulland, Gargunnock Community Trust Convenor said, “This is a great moment for Gargunnock. The community has pulled together to both convince the Council that we have the confidence and abilities to manage our own community centre as well as raise considerable funding and deliver a project which will change the community for the better.”
Douglas Johnston, the Chair of the Centre Management Committee who oversaw the refurbishment project added, “We now have a facility fit for our community needs for the next 50 years. Something the whole community can feel really proud of. It has taken us a while to make this happen but when people see the new centre I’m sure everyone will recognise the achievement and see the benefits of the new layout and facilities”
A series of events are planned over the weekend with a formal opening being carried out by Col Sir James Stirling of Garden at 2.30pm on Saturday.