THE future of a vital advice service in Alloa is secure, despite the first-ever Community Asset Transfer at Clacks Council being refused.

A special meeting of the Place Committee in December has seen the refusal of a Community Asset Transfer (CAT) request for the former Glebe Hall by Clackmannanshire Third Sector Interface (CTSi).

A key element of the CAT proposal was to secure long-term tenancy for Clackmannanshire Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB) which has been sharing the Burgh Mews building with CTSi.

And while the proposals to give the charity support organisation full ownership – which would have reduced CTSi's financial liabilities with money invested in activities – were rejected, the council has also given its commitment to keeping the CAB in the town centre.

Indeed, a council officer told the December 1 Place Committee meeting: "Dealing with the actual sale of the property, it would be very unlikely we would be able to protect the CAB unit being run from the property.

"Once a property is sold, that's it, we lose complete control over that property.

"As such, and I note that within the application that has been provided by CTSi, there's lots of confirmations that the CAB unit will be there, it's an asset, it's going to run along with it – but the most important thing is that we couldn't, as a council, guarantee that once the property has been sold."

Documents on the day made clear the local authority is looking to maintain a strong partnership with both organisations, addressing their long term security in a town centre location.

Elected members agreed to refuse the request, on reasonable grounds as set out in the Community

Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, and to open negotiations with Clacks CAB "for a lease which will take account of new circumstances and the need for security of tenure in affordable, publicly accessible premises".

It is understood CTSi has since moved out of the building - which will give CAB more space as it expands, having hired a number of staff this year.

The charity support organisation is set to return in a town centre location, with many currently working from home due to the pandemic.

Anthea Coulter, chief officer and business manager at CTSi, told the Advertiser: "One of the main reasons we were wanting to purchase the building was to protect Clacks CAB in the middle of town, that was one of our leading reasons.

"Actually, what the council is also wanting to do is the same thing.

"One of the reasons they are not giving us the CAT was because they wanted Clacks CAB to be protected by them in the town centre – fantastic.

"As far as we as a board of trustees are concerned, that was exactly the commitment we wanted."

The meeting also highlighted how CTSi has invested in the building.

A council officer said: "While there was a significant rent-free period, it's important members are aware CTSi have invested quite considerably in the building."