A TOTAL of £30,000 will be distributed among Wee County community groups that took on the management of halls and other former council facilities.

The money will be split evenly, with £6,000 each provided by Clackmannanshire Council, between five groups in Alva, Clackmannan, Tullibody, Dollar and Menstrie.

The move was agreed at last Thursday's, August 22, full council meeting at Kilncraigs as all elected members gathered for the first time following the summer recess.

In order to further empower communities and groups, a number of innovations also received the nod.

One change relates to the booking of sports pitches, run by the local authority, adjacent to community operated facilities.

The issue is that local customers were put in a complicated situation where changing facilities had to be booked through community groups but pitches were arranged through the council.

A fix will now be trialled which will see council officers given discretion to transfer the booking process and associated income to the community groups in question if they wish to do so in a more joined-up solution.

Staff and volunteers will still liaise closely on regulatory matters.

This would lose the council around £1,000 in income a year.

Documents tabled on the day added that "this would be offset to some extent by opportunity cost associated with bookings and failure demand".

Another issue, which was highlighted by Councillor Helen Lewis who proposed the paper, revolved around groups having to pay a bond for events in parks.

The bonds are to reduce losses and damage to public space during events, but the chamber heard that even with concessionary rates, paying them can be challenging for community groups with marginal cash flow.

Council papers outlined that, for a trial period, officers will be given discretion not to charge a bond fee "on the basis that it is in the interests of both parties that the amenity value of public parks is maintained".

Inspections will take place both before and after events and any damage would have to be made good.

It was recognised by Cllr Lewis that the groups and the council are on a long journey together, indeed those who were formerly customers of the local authority are now more like partners in delivering services.

For council leader Cllr Ellen Forson, who hailed the move as a "good news story", it was the start of a conversation with the groups, who took over the buildings as part of the Community Asset Transfer process.

She explained it had been argued on social media the groups deserved more support and she was keen to listen and do just that.

The council leader also applauded their efforts in keeping the facilities open when savings proposals from staff called for closures, saying they "stepped up to the plate".

Cllr George Matchett urged colleagues to keep supporting the groups, adding they had numerous obstacles to overcome and "many of them are tired".

Also joining calls to "cut the red tape" was Cllr Darren Lee.