THE council has been criticised for setting an "arbitrary date" for the closure of the Tullibody Civic Centre.

Volunteers from the Tullibody Community Development Trust (TCDT) are looking to take the building into community hands, after the council announced it would no longer front running costs.

However, Green MSP Mark Ruskell argues the deadline set by the local authority is a barrier to any real progress.

The Mid Scotland and Fife representative is calling on council officers to actively engage with the trust, and to support their ambitious plans for the future, instead of "standing in their way".

Mr Ruskell said: "It is very apparent that the centre is at the heart of the community hosting the library and heritage centre, and is made use of by many local organisations.

"The trust have some really innovative and exciting plans for the future but Clackmannanshire Council is not helping the community to move forward.

"They have set an arbitrary date of September for the hall to close, and appear to be offering little in the way of active assistance."

The MSP, who said he will be taking up the issue, added: "Clackmannanshire Council should be supporting the community who will ultimately be helping the council make major cost savings, instead they are standing in their way."

The group emerged from the Save Tullibody Public Park Campaign, which launched in response to a consultation which included a proposal to situate Abercromby Primary School on the green space, and wants to explore the option of community ownership of the centre.

Councillor Phil Fairlie, partnership and third sector spokesperson at the council, said an expression of interest in the centre and playing fields was received in August from what is now the development trust.

He outlined officers invited members to meet them the following month to open up a "channel of communication" to help the trust progress a possible community asset transfer.

This allowed officers to better understand the group's aspirations, and to share the council's interests, and followed earlier meetings in 2017 with senior officers and significant email correspondence during which information on lets, running costs and maintenance, fabric condition and a copy of a recent building survey were provided.

Cllr Fairlie said: "Since then, officers have responded to several enquiries and requests for information, most recently just a couple of weeks ago, while the trust researches its resource needs and develops its business plan.

"The council has agreed a single point of contact for the group to use for any queries relating to a potential asset transfer.

"Whilst the trust has not raised any particular issues of concern through the single point of contact, officers are more than willing to meet with its members to ensure they have all the necessary information and assistance required to submit a community asset transfer request."