TOWN halls across Clackmannanshire have had their funding cut, as the council tries to close its budget gap.

Councillors unanimously approved the 2024/25 budget, with support for Clackmannan Town Hall, Coalsnaughton Village Hall and Devonvale Hall axed.

However, the council has listened to other community concerns and they have postponed making cuts to library and leisure services until next year.

The budget proposals originally suggested axing library and CAP services at Ben Cleuch in Tillicoultry and Sauchie Hall later this year. The proposals also threatened that leisure services at Sauchie Hall and the Ben Cleuch Centre could be “phased out.” 

However, councillors have agreed to “defer this proposal to 2025/26, providing time for Council, community and partners to continue dialogue on a suitable, workable and sustainable model over the coming year.”

Regardless, funding for Clackmannan Town Hall, Coalsnaughton Village Hall and Devonvale Hall will be cut. Generally, the buildings will be made available for community asset transfer – meaning that community groups would have an opportunity to fund and run their own services. 

Although the withdrawal of council funding will “undoubtedly” impact on local communities, Clackmannanshire Councile leader, Councillor Ellen Forson, believes there are ways forward. 

She said: “In many communities where halls have been closed before, the community has come forward and taken them on.

“They’re able to bring in external funding and they’ve actually made much more vibrant facilities than if they were run by the council. So there are always options.”

However, Cllr Forson acknowledges the difficulty of the situation for local communities.

“I think it’s difficult for communities to understand because there’s a perception that the council delivers [certain] services, but moving forward there has to be a real, honest discussion about the services that can be expected to be delivered,” she previously said.

These cuts come from financial challenges placed on Clackmannanshire Council, which requires them to balance essential services with leisure and entertainment.

Cllr Forson added that increased demand in the Wee County has resulted in these difficult decisions having to be taken.

She said: “Demand for services is really going through the roof,” she said. “More people are living longer so every year demand for [social care services] goes up.

“Demand for services such as Additional Support Needs (ASN) in school are also increasing – 44 per cent of young people in Clackmannanshire now require ASN.

“We have to focus our spending on those areas. So although there’s more money coming in, it’s being eaten up by those wider priorities.” 

The council must provide these statutory, legally obligated, services, but it also must find a way to balance the budget. In doing so, other services have to be sacrificed. 

She added: “If more people need a care package to help them live at home safely, then we have to deliver that.

“People are entitled to an education, and if more people need additional support needs, then you have to cover that.

“Councillors are going to be faced with that really difficult scenario this year.”