Highland Council to create arms length organisation for Community Learning and Leisure

Members of The Highland Council’s Education, Culture and Sport (ECS) Committee have agreed to a major transfer of the management and delivery of Community Learning and Leisure Services to an arms length organisation (ALO).

The transfer which will take place in the financial year 2011/12 will save the Council £1 million per year through an ALO. The decision affects over 1,000 Highland Council staff, around 124 properties and an annual budget in excess of £15 million.

The target date for transfer to an ALO is 1 October 2011. Council staff moving to the organisation would transfer under the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations (TUPE) 2005. The organisation will have the potential to become more focussed on customer needs under the direction of a Board of Directors with business and community expertise.

Welcoming the decision to transfer the management and delivery of Community Learning and Leisure Services to an ALO, Councillor Bill Fernie, Chairman of The Highland Council’s Education, Culture and Sport Committee said: “We have taken this approach to make huge savings but also to ensure that for the most part the public will still have continuity of local amenities and services under the remit of Community Learning and Leisure. By creating an arms length organisation Highland Council will be able to find £1 million savings without further reduction in Community Learning and Leisure Service delivery or closure of facilities.”

He added: “The new organisation will have potential opportunities to: secure alternative sources of funding not available to local authorities; expand its business activities through increased provision of catering and merchandising; and create greater community identity with facilities and activities which are operated by a charity.”

Vice Chairman of the Education, Culture and Sport Committee, Councillor Drew Millar, thanked the Director and staff of Education, Culture and Sport for the vast amount of work, research and time that had been spent in preparing the business case for the creation of an ALO. He added: “Recent budget consultations have shown that the public have a high regard for the facilities and services provided by Community Learning and Leisure. By protecting facilities from closure and avoiding reductions in services we will also be able to protect jobs in our communities.”

A further report will be brought to a meeting of The Highland Council on 12 May to decide the name of the company that would be limited by guarantee with charitable status. Legal documentation for the transfer will be brought to the Council’s Education, Culture and Sport Committee in August 2010 and various reports on the process of transfer affecting staff, properties and establishing the company and service delivery contracts will be reported to future meetings of the Resources and Full Council committees over the coming months.

10 Mar 2011
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