Under threat pitch and games hall saved from the axe

Falkirk FC charity joined forces with parents to secure future of Woodlands Games Hall.

Woodlands: Falkirk Council has endorsed plan to save games hall.
Woodlands: Falkirk Council has endorsed plan to save games hall. Google 2016

A games hall and playing pitch expected to shut amid budget cuts has been saved by parents and a Falkirk FC charity.

Woodlands Games Hall and pitch had been earmarked for closure by Falkirk Council because of "budgetary constraints" and the "continued deterioration of the pitch".

A proposal put forward by the Falkirk FC Foundation and Comely Park Parent Council to save the facility has now been endorsed by the local authority.

Next week, it is holding a full council meeting when the move is due to be rubber-stamped.

Under the plans, the Cochrane Street site will become a new "social enterprise" after six months of negotiations among the groups involved.

The backers secured £200,000 from the landfill communities fund to revamp the run-down facility. The work will include the replacement of the existing artificial football pitch, new equipment and floodlighting.

Craig Campbell, chief executive of Falkirk FC Foundation said: "This is a brilliant example of true partnership between the local council and the local community, working for the benefit of local children.

"The new investment we are delivering will create a first-class facility for young children to play sport and will bring fresh energy to a facility right in the centre of Falkirk. 

"We believe this will inspire other community organisations throughout Scotland to look at how they can secure the long-term provision of facilities in their own areas through community asset transfer."

Under the agreement, the games hall and pitch will be transferred from the councils arms-length body, Falkirk Community Trust, to a new company created by the charity and parent council to run the site.

This new entity, WCS Limited, will have a 25-year lease from the local authority on the property for an annual peppercorn rent of £1.

It is hoped the facility will be open again by next March.

Mel Brookes, joint chairman of the parent council, said: "After many months of hard work, we're delighted to have been able to secure the future of sports and activities for the children of Comely Park and the local area.

"We're convinced this project will provide a blueprint for other community groups to follow in future years."

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