A REVIEW of culture, sport and leisure services provided by Live Borders has been launched – with the charity facing “unprecedented” financial struggles.

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) established the trust – which operates more than 60 venues on behalf of the local authority – back in 2016.

The aim of the review is to ensure the sustainability of services and facilities provided by Live Borders.

The move comes after the struggling charity received a £550,000 bail out from SBC in March just to maintain its current level of provision.

Alison Moore, chair of Live Borders, said: “The financial pressures on Live Borders are unprecedented and we look forward to working with the council to ensure that our services are put on a sustainable financial footing for the future.

“This review represents an important opportunity to reflect on the new landscape in which Live Borders operates and to ensure that the organisation is able to fully meet the needs of all of our users going forwards.

“As a charity we are particularly keen to ensure that all voices are heard across the region as part of this review and that it covers the breadth of the services we operate, which includes sport, culture, museums and libraries.”

The joint review between SBC and Live Borders has kicked off with internal engagement with employees from both organisations.

This will then shape public engagement later in the summer around the quality, accessibility and affordability of services.

The review comes at a time of unprecedented financial pressures across the entire leisure sector, due to high inflation, fast rising energy costs, a changing picture of service usage post pandemic, an ageing property portfolio and the need to work towards ‘net zero’ targets.

The aim is to complete the review by the end of October this year. The outcome will inform the 2024/25 service and budget planning process, and also result in a new joint agreement, replacing that put in place when Live Borders was established in 2016.

SBC leader Euan Jardine, a Conservative councillor for Galashiels, said: “This review is a really exciting opportunity to provide a strong footing for Live Borders to go forward and build upon in the years ahead, delivering the best possible leisure, sport and cultural services to our residents and visitors, supported by the council. The world has changed significantly since 2016, new challenges and opportunities have emerged, and this is a chance to take all this into account, along with the feedback of Borderers, and shape the future of the hugely valued services delivered by Live Borders.”

Mr Jardine said that Live Borders’ services would be a focus of public engagement sessions this summer.

The Borders Sports and Leisure Trust was set up in 2003. The services delivered have been expanded over the years, including the addition of cultural and various community services in 2016 when Live Borders was established. Community sports provision at a number of new high school campuses and the addition of the Great Tapestry of Scotland in 2020 have been added to the scope of Live Borders services in recent years.