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THE FUTURE of public leisure and culture services in West Lothian is receiving nationwide backing with the launch of Community Leisure UK.

The association of charitable trusts is focusing a national campaign on supporting the retention and development of public leisure and culture facilities and services, including those managed by West Lothian Leisure.

West Lothian Leisure, have operated over the last 20 years as your local community leisure trust. They have invested more than £14 Million back into the trust and operate Xcite Venues, Howden Park Centre, The Low Port Centre, Polkemment Golf and Driving Range as well as leisure facilities in local secondary schools. They are one of the lowest public-funded trusts in Scotland, with 18% of income coming from Council funding.

The trust model, which invests every penny generated back into community services and facilities, has proven successful across Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. But funding pressures on local government, increasing demand for services across the life span, and rising costs such as energy, are creating a fragile landscape.

The umbrella organisation for trusts, Community Leisure UK - formerly Sporta - is committed to supporting West Lothian Leisure and our local partners in our vision to improve the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our communities, breaking down barriers to social inclusion and supporting all ages.

Cate Atwater, Chief Executive of Community Leisure UK, explained: “The charitable trust model has helped to protect and develop our public services in tough economic times, ensuring every penny of income goes back into your community. Communities need local, public leisure services, delivered by those who put the needs of their locality first.

“As we hear on the news daily, many public services are now at breaking point. So, it’s a simple request now - if we want public leisure and cultural facilities and services to still be there in ten years, we need to enable local authorities, policymakers and community leisure trusts to protect and invest in those services. And it’s about more than a financial investment - investment is about building a true, transparent and long-term partnership.”

Robin Strang, Chief Executive of West Lothian Leisure, stated: “We have a strong passion to develop our services to be suitable for and supportive of every person in our communities, and while that’s a challenge in the current economic climate it’s one we’re committed to, and working with our people and partners across West Lothian to achieve that.

“Community Leisure UK is working on our behalf with government, NHS and other key partners so that we can all work together to protect our services, and we are committed to working with trusts across Scotland and the UK to ensure we can deliver the best facilities and services to support the health and wellbeing of current and future generations in and around West Lothian.”