Labour and Tories close iconic park gallery

Cecil Meiklejohn

Despite receiving representation from the Arts Community seeking a re-think Labour, Tory and the former Independent Councillors in Falkirk Council voted to close the only public art gallery in Falkirk.

One of the key reasons for closing the gallery advanced by Administration speakers was the low footfall in the gallery but SNP members pointed out that the gallery had attracted almost 1000 more visitors this year than the Kinneil Museum where Labour had campaigned to keep open in 2006.

SNP members also hit out at the lack of any consultation over the closure and compared this to the SNP’s treatment of the general public on the issue of the 2006 Kinneil Museum issue.

At the time officers recommended the relocation of the museum to the soon to be refurbished Hippodrome Cinema. However, the SNP overturned the recommendation of officers and retained the Museum when the people responded overwhelmingly to a public consultation exercise undertaken by the SNP Administration at the time.

Moving the SNP motion to retain the gallery Falkirk North SNP Councillor, Cecil Meiklejohn, said,

“The double standards of the New Labour Convenor of the committee responsible for the closure, former Falkirk Herald chief reporter, Adrian Mahoney, is breathtaking.

Mr Mahoney made his reputation in Bo’ness campaigning to keep the Kinneil Museum open yet he denies the people of Falkirk the same option over the retention of Falkirk’s only publicly owned art gallery.

With the closure of the Park Gallery, Woodburn and Glenfuir Nursery Schools, abolition of the Fire Cadet Service, abandonment of the innovative Falkirk Soccer Centre, cancellation of town centre regenerations, cut backs on the Helix and dramatic cuts in council services this Labour / Tory Administration is fast gaining a reputation for notoriety.”

The SNP Councillors have vowed to continue to fight the cuts being imposed by the current Administration forced on them by a combination of cuts from Westminster and failure to balance their own budgets within the council.

The SNP believe that as there has been no formal public consultation on the proposed closure of the Park Gallery there is unlikely to be any repeat of the consultation exercise that was carried out in 2006 should the Labour and Tory Councillors act in a consistent manner and close Kinneil because of poor participation figures.

Bo’ness and Blackness SNP Councillor, John Constable, said

“Speaker after speaker on the Labour / Tory side of the chambers rose to their feet and gave as their justification the low attendance figures as the primary reason for the closure of the Park Gallery.

Indeed we had a senior member of the Administration, Tory Councillor Malcolm Nicol proclaiming that no matter whether Brown or Cameron was in 10 Downing Street next years further major cuts in public services were on their way.

For those of us who fought and won the campaign to keep Kinneil Museum open if that was what the Bo’ness public wanted alarm bells are ringing for the future given that the now doomed Park Gallery had almost 1000 more visitors to it than Kinneil Museum in the first five months of the year.”

Councillor Constable was supported in the chamber by SNP Group Leader, David Alexander who said,

“The refusal to consult over the closure of the Park Gallery means that the Labour / Tory Administration believe that they can cut what they want without ever worrying about public opinion.

This added to the financial mess the Labour / Tory Administration are in with a projected £3.5m overspend this year must place a huge question mark over their commitment to retain facilities such as the park Gallery and Kinneil Museum.”

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