Community organisations will be given an opportunity to discuss taking on an enhanced role in the running of some local East Lothian Council buildings.

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 has strengthened the rights of community groups to take a lead role in managing community facilities. Council officers have been scoping out potential opportunities for community asset transfer (CAT) in the county.

CAT could involve community organisations taking on the management (through a lease arrangement) or ownership of some community facilities. Such a transfer can enable community groups to access funding sources such as the Scottish Land Fund, the Big Lottery and others, to help with the purchase or redevelopment of buildings.

Six potentially suitable buildings have been identified:

  • East Linton Council Chamber
  • Gullane Recreation Hall
  • Macmerry Village Hall
  • Prestonpans Town Hall
  • Stoneyhill Community Centre, Musselburgh
  • Trevelyan Hall, Pencaitland

The council is now in the early stages of engaging with community representatives to discuss the potential for CAT at these locations.

Councillor Jim Goodfellow, Cabinet Spokesperson for Community Wellbeing, said:

“There are a number of community facilities and village halls in East Lothian which are already managed successfully by volunteer members of the local community. Committees often cover running costs through the income they receive, with a varied programme of events taking place at the heart of the local community.

 “East Lothian Council is keen to build on the excellent work of Area Partnerships, Community Councils and other local organisations in delivering local priority agendas. We want to continue building community capacity while empowering people to make decisions which affect their area.

“We believe that giving communities the opportunity to take an enhanced role has the potential to increase the usage and vibrancy of the facilities and also increase income to help cover running costs. Community organisations may be able to access external funding sources to help make the venues increasingly successful.

“This supports the objective in our Council Plan, ‘Growing our Communities’, which is about extending community engagement and decision making. It also supports the council in making increasingly efficient use of resources. It enables us to continue working in partnership with local communities towards realising our vision for an even more prosperous, safe and sustainable East Lothian.

“We are engaging with community organisations on the potential of Community Asset Transfer at six locations. This process will continue in the coming weeks and months and we look forward to discussing the potential benefits with interested parties.”

Council officers this week met representatives of Area Partnerships and relevant Community Councils to discuss CAT opportunities.

From January, organisations will have a three-month opportunity to note an expression of interest in getting involved with the running of the facilities.

The council will then evaluate the expressions of interest received. On completion of this consultation, a final recommendation will be brought forward seeking approval of the intended future purpose of each asset.

Published: Wednesday, 19th December 2018