Community centre faces closure threat

The community centre is used by fewer groups than ever before
The community centre is used by fewer groups than ever before

NEWTON Stewart Community Centre could be closed down and sold as part of plans to free up cash within the council.

The building on York Road is being viewed as surplus to requirements since its use by Douglas Ewart High School came to an end because of the completion of renovations on the main school building last year.

Newton Stewart Community Centre could be sold off

Newton Stewart Community Centre could be sold off

And it is thought the groups that do use the centre, such as mothers and toddlers and youth groups, can relocate to the McMillan Hall which will, in turn, keep the iconic town building at Dashwood Square viable.

The plans are part of a region-wide consideration being given to a number of buildings whose groups could be condensed into council properties elsewhere, and which could also see the council’s customer services department moved from the McMillan Hall into Newton Stewart Library.

Councillor Graham Nicol said the plans could be of benefit to various people and services, and could see school buildings being better used by community groups outside of teaching hours.

He added: “As part of the council’s drive to reduce the number of buildings which it is having to maintain, heat, et cetera, all options in all towns are being looked at. This has been brought on by the fact that the council – having saved £30 million from its budget over the past three years – needs to find savings of a further £27 million in the next three years and one of the options which has certainly been looked at is the integration of the customer service centre into the library and what further use can be made of the McMillan Hall after that takes place.

“This is still at the discussion stage and all council buildings in Newton Stewart are being looked it with a view to reducing our estate. This would also involve making greater use of our schools outwith normal school hours.”

Similar plans are in motion to move the customer service centre from Stranraer’s Sun Street building into the library on North Strand Street.

A budget development report 
outlining the potential savings said: “Customers who pay their council tax and DGHP rents through Customer Service Centres would be encouraged to pay these charges through alternative existing facilities, local post offices and shops via Pay Point. These alternatives are available for longer opening hours than council facilities, and also support local businesses.”

The document added that a potential saving of £12,500 could be made in Newton Stewart and £45,000 in Stranraer. No decisions have been made on the future of these buildings yet, and the proposals will be discussed by councillors at a future date.