THE future of the council and Live Borders’ relationship will be decided next month.

Returning all leisure, sport and cultural services back under the control of the local authority is one of four options under urgent consideration.

They are currently operated for the council by the charity Live Borders.

But a review was undertaken after the trust experienced “unprecedented” challenges over the past five years – including the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent slow recovery, massively increased utility costs and changes in customer usage trends.

Now one of four options for the future will be selected at a meeting of the full council on Thursday, June 27.

The options are to continue with the current trust model; utilise alternative trust models; return some services to Scottish Borders Council’s (SBC) control; or bring all services under the council.

SBC leader Euan Jardine accepted it was a “difficult and unsettling time” for Live Borders workers.

Mr Jardine said: “Due to the ongoing challenges being experienced by Live Borders and the financial support required from the council over a sustained period, it is appropriate that we consider how we can best continue to deliver these valued services to our communities and visitors. No decisions have been taken yet and will not be taken until the meeting of council in June, when we will have all the information before us to consider the pros and cons of each of the four options.

“We understand that this is a difficult and unsettling time for staff who work for Live Borders, as well as users of the services. We have requested that the work is done at pace so a decision can be made next month and that the transformation work continues to progress as planned.”

A joint transformational change programme is also progressing, aimed at delivering high quality sport, leisure and cultural services through a financially sustainable and high performing partnership.

It follows an independent joint review during 2023.

Alison Moore, chair of Live Borders, said: “The four options that will be considered by elected members for the future delivery of leisure services in the Borders mark an evolution of a process that has been under way for 12 months, beginning with the independent joint review in the first half of 2023 and continuing with the ongoing transformational change programme.

“Ultimately, both Live Borders and the council have the same aim: the delivery of high quality services which meet the needs of residents and visitors and which are affordable at a time of highly constrained public finances. How this is best achieved is what is currently being considered.

“The board of Live Borders believes that the trust model remains the best way to deliver these services, but we recognise that, given the changing landscape, it is both logical and timely for the operating model to be considered in the round.

“While this is a period of uncertainty, particularly for the hard working and dedicated staff of Live Borders, they should be assured that both Live Borders and SBC are working closely and productively together to ensure a successful future for them and for the services in which they work.”