Stirling Council will take over the management and operation of the National Wallace Monument before the end of the year, signalling the start of a bold and exciting tourism offering for the region.

At a special meeting of the Council yesterday  (17 Sep), elected members voted for the local authority to take responsibility for the iconic international attraction from November 27, securing its future amid the current coronavirus crisis and putting it at the heart of an integrated plan to attract visitors to area.

Owned by the CouncilThe Monument is owned by the Council and is currently leased to Stirling District Tourism, and the local authority has always been solely responsible for the maintenance of the Monument. At meetings in March and in June the Council agreed that the 25-year lease be terminated when it was due to end in November.  

This followed the failure of protracted negotiations to agree a new lease that offered best value for Stirling Council taxpayers or a suitable agreement for a new partnership arrangement.

After further extensive discussions with SDT failed to provide a positive outcome, Councillors have now ratified the original decisions made in March and June.

Work will now get underway on putting the iconic landmark at the centre of an ambitious tourism and cultural approach for Stirling and the wider area, which will see it, and other publicly owned assets, brought together to drive tourism growth across the region.

Bold plans

Council Leader Scott Farmer said: “The decision taken by the Council shows we are resolute in our commitment to safeguarding this world-famous attraction and its staff in these challenging times.

“The National Wallace Monument already stands proudly over Stirling and now we can move forward with our bold plans to make it a beacon for the wider tourism offering in the area.

“It is regrettable that SDT has not taken a more constructive approach to negotiations but it’s now time to move on and collaborate with key organisations and local communities to grow the profile of this iconic attraction across the globe.

“Our door will always remain open to SDT, however, and I hope they will engage in a positive partnership with Council Officers to ensure a smooth transition so this jewel in Scotland’s crown can prosper for years to come.

A report was presented to Councillors on the extensive work undertaken to investigate all future options for the Monument, ensuring best value for taxpayers, and an update on the negotiations with SDT.

A number of key points were clarified during the meeting:

  • The Monument should not have to close temporarily once the Council takes over managing the attraction. However, this is dependent upon SDT engaging proactively and positively in supporting the process of transfer to ensure this is achieved in the interest of the Monument and its dedicated staff.
  • Staff at the Monument will have their jobs and pay protected as part of the transfer to the council, and will be at the forefront of the arrangements
  • The importance of having an operator of the Monument who has the wider interests of Stirling and its tourism economy as a key priority during the current pandemic.

Protect and conserve

Depute Leader, Cllr Danny Gibson said: “As elected representatives of Stirling Council, it’s our duty to secure the best outcome for residents, communities and the Monument during these negotiations.

“After significant attempts by the Council to reach a new agreement with SDT over a new partnership approach that represented best value proved in vain, it became clear a new approach was required.

“Over the past 150 years, Stirling Council and its predecessors have always stepped up to protect and conserve this publicly owned and treasured local asset, and the Council will continue to do so once it assumes management of the Monument as well.

“Securing the best future for this global attraction, its hard-working staff and the local community is in everyone’s interests. We will work with a range of national and local organisations to achieve this and I hope SDT will be part of that.” 

The Council will now convene a special working group to support this new approach, involving Historic Environment Scotland, VisitScotland and local organisations. Stirling District Tourism will also be invited to take part.

Watch how the decision was made 

A recording of the Special Meeting of Stirling Council on 17 September where this decision was approved can be viewed on YouTube.