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The Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council has reiterated his pledge that the new Labour SNP administration will not include the closure of art galleries, museums or sports centres in their forthcoming budget.

The proposals for savings of up to 20% in arts and museums and sports and leisure closures were developed under the previous Tory led administration and the details have now been published for members of the Council’s Policy and Resources Committee who meet next week (5 November).

However, the proposals are not being taken forward by the new administration and will not be in the list of savings options to be published in the council’s draft budget in December.

Council Leader Ronnie Nicholson said, “No one disputes that the sheer scale of the Government’s cuts will be hugely challenging to deal with. You can’t find £36 million of savings over the next three years without some tough decisions. However, the proposals for closures of art galleries, museums and sports centres were developed under the previous Tory led council and put simply- they will not be in Labour’s budget. Frankly, closures are a lazy way out of the problem we face and the fact that the proposals were even drawn up suggests that the service reviews carried out under the last administration were just not thorough enough. We need to take a long term look at sport and the arts in our region and come up with innovative solutions. That certainly doesn’t mean an arm’s length body, because that removes democratic control from local people and because it would be region wide, it is too remote from local communities. But it could mean developing Sports Hubs where local facilities are run by the local groups who use them and we need far better working together with the Education department to stop duplication such as the booking system for council facilities. It’s time to draw a line under the last administrations plans. Our budget published in December will have some savings but not closures. We need to move on and the new council will be sitting down with those involved in local sports and arts groups to work together on a way forward in the long term.

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