Rising leisure prices ‘harsh reality’ of cuts bite

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Above inflation price hikes and massive cuts in the region’s leisure and cultural services are on the cards.

That’s the ‘‘harsh reality’’ which lies ahead as Fife Council tries to find savings of £7m.

The warning came from a senior councillor as he forecast current spending levels would be ‘‘increasingly difficult to sustain.’’

Brian Goodall spoke as the Council revealed it had to find the savings from its leisure and cultural services budget by 2015.

And that will likely mean paying more at the door - and a ‘‘significant reduction’ in the funding available to support in-house services and trusts.

Investment

But Councillor Goodall, chairman of Fife’s housing and communities committee, pledged: ‘‘Investment is continuing - and will continue - as will our commitment to leisure and culture .’’

His comments came as part of a local authority briefing on the road ahead for leisure and culture.

It highlighted the steps already taken to save on business rates by delivering services via trusts, such as On at Fife, Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, and Fife Sports and Leisure Trust, allowing the Council to use these savings to reinvest in new sporting and cultural facilities and expand activity programmes.

But tough times still lie ahead.

Councillor Brian Goodall,said: “Trusts are one of the vehicles we have used successfully to make savings. They all have charitable status and are often able to attract external funding from sources not available to the Council.

Challenge

“We will be doing more of the same when Fife Cultural Trust is established later this year - it will provide a single focus for most of the cultural provision in Fife and deliver further efficiency savings of approximately £650,000.

“However, the challenge of finding another £7 million over the next three years will inevitably mean a significant reduction in the funding available to support in-house services and the various trusts.’’

He added: “The harsh reality is that it will be increasingly difficult to sustain the current levels of sporting and cultural provision in the medium to long term and the Council faces difficult decisions about future provision in Fife.”

Fees and charges are among those elements which will be considered in the process, including above inflation increases.

“Innovation is key here - new ways of delivering services will be the way forward and good progress has already been made,’’ added Cllr Goodall.