THURSDAY, October 8, will be decision day for Scottish Borders Council and its plans to transfer all its museums, libraries, public halls and community centres – along with 200 staff – to a new integrated trust.

A feasibility study, six months in the preparation, is set to recommend on that date that cultural services, which cost SBC £5m a year to run, should, in effect, be taken over by the Borders Sport and Leisure Trust (BSLT) which operates six swimming pools and several leisure centres across the region.

The new organisation will qualify for rates relief and thus save the council an estimated £400,000 a year.

Included in the transfer will be Jedburgh Town Hall after it was revealed last week that talks over its transfer to the trust which runs the town’s swimming pool have been abandoned.

SBC agreed 18 months ago to offer a 25-year lease to the Jedburgh Leisure Facilities Trust (JLFT), but despite extensive negotiations, no agreement has been reached.

In line with other community asset transfers made by SBC, the lease involved revenue support from the council of £30,000 for the first year, tapering to zero over five years.

But the recommendation of council officers not to pursue the transfer to JLFT was opposed by Jedburgh councillor and SBC’s vice-convener Jim Brown at last week’s meeting of SBC’s chief executive.

“Myself and the other two Jedburgh councillors [Sandy Scott and Rory Stewart] still feel the JLFT should take over,” said Councillor Brown.

“If the hall gets transferred to a bigger trust it may take years for it to get the investment it deserves. The JLFT has run the pool successfully for 12 years and is prepared to make this work.

“You cannot blame them for trying to get more money out of the council.” Despite his plea, the executive voted 7-2 to abandon the negotiations and, instead, to consider the hall as part of the transfer to the new integrated culture trust which, unlike the JLFT, will receive an ongoing management fee from the council.

Meanwhile, officers from the council and the BSLT will next month visit Highland where an integrated sport and leisure trust has operated since 2011.