The Wigtown Area Committee will continue to fund the Millennium Centre in Stranraer for a further six months but only because a new board has been put in place.
Elected members made it abundantly clear at Wednesday morning’s Area Committee meeting in Wigtown County Building that they were not impressed that previous Millennium Centre Community Trust members had been “economical with the truth” about the progress of an application to the Big Lottery for funding, the details of which were crucial to the committee’s previous approval of council cash. The members debated for over two hours whether or not to approve a further tranche of funding for the centre, after finally receiving long awaited financial statistics.
In May the committee agreed to ring fence £12,500 to help the Millennium Centre avoid financial meltdown but this would only be released if the MCCT came up with regular progress reports showing they were achieving business targets set by the council. One beacon of light throughout the saga had been council officers and elected members believe, based on information given, that the MCCT had already applied to the Big Lottery for funding. But members were shocked and dismayed to read that when the council contacted the Big Lottery last month they were told that no such application had been received, leading one member to say the area committee had been “lied to”.
The Big Lottery have since confirmed to the council that an application from the MCCT was received on October 18, six months behind the original schedule.
With this new information, the area committee grudging agreed to release the remainder of the funding on a monthly basis until May when a decision by the Big Lottery will be known.
Mid Galloway Council Alistair Geddes was exasperated about the quality of the financial information before than which showed alleged discrepancies between income and expenditure. He raged: “We as a committee are entitled to expect a certain standard of information and that is not the case here.” He motioned that funding should cease but failed to get a seconder.
Area Committee chairman Jim McClung said: “I have great sympathy with Councillor Geddes as I do not like people that are economical with the truth, however, we will continue with funding as we have a new board who have already made a difference.”
The members also called for a further report on progress in January. Since 2006 the Millennium Centre has received financial support of almost £20,000 from the council.