THE charitable trust which, just six months ago, took control of the museums, libraries, community centres and public halls previously run by Scottish Borders Council is seeking to cut its 400-strong workforce in a bid to save cash.

Live Borders, which also operates 14 major sports facilities including six swimming pools, is inviting staff to apply for voluntary severance or early retirement deals.

And employees have been given until next Friday, November 25, to express an interest.

“It is anticipated successful applicants will leave on or before March 31,” states chief executive Ewan Jackson in a letter to staff.

An amalgam of SBC’s cultural services and the former Borders Sport and Leisure Trust, Live Borders came into existence on April 1 when the council confirmed a £121m contract for the delivery of the integrated services over the next 20 years.

In his letter Mr Jackson says his organisation receives 60% of its funding from the council with the balance of its budget coming from “income we generate ourselves”.

“You will be aware that the pressure on public sector finances continues,” he states.

“As a number of areas such as teacher and police numbers and free personal care have been protected by the Scottish Government, it means others areas and services, such as our own, will be required to address these pressures.

“Due to a significant reduction in the government funding the council will receive, there is a need to achieve significant savings.

“As we build our knowledge and understanding of our services…we will need to reshape and refocus some of these and find alternative ways of delivering our valued services.”

Mr Jackson reveals that a review of senior management has already taken place and a new executive structure agreed.

“The next stage of the review process will be to look at the structure, processes and employee levels,” he writes.

“Whilst I would stress no decisions have yet been taken, it is likely these reviews will result in a restructure of our organisation in order to deliver the key benefits of integration and to implement the alternative ways of delivering our services that is required.

“In this context Live Borders has decided to offer our employees the opportunity to apply for early release from employment through an early retirement/voluntary severance (ER/VS) scheme.

“We also invite and will consider any alternative working arrangement requests that employees want to make, such as moving to part-time hours, changing roles and flexible retirement.”

Mr Jackson makes it clear there is no obligation on Live Borders to approve any application which will require senior management endorsement before being submitted to the council, which operates the ER/VS scheme, for a final decision.