Stirling’s Councillors will be asked to approve a new way ahead to secure a positive future for one of Scotland’s most iconic visitor attractions.

A proposal will go to councillors at a Special Meeting on Thursday (Sept 17) recommending plans on how the National Wallace Monument can adapt to the challenges of Covid-19 and the major impact the pandemic is having on tourism.

The Council, which owns the Monument, had already agreed in March that it would take over management of the attraction from Stirling District Tourism at the end of the current lease in November, after negotiations on a new lease failed to yield either a deal that offered best value or a suitable agreement for a new partnership.

Extensive negotiations have continued with SDT and a new report will now ask Councillors to ratify the original decision in March with a view to a positive future.

Council Leader, Cllr Scott Farmer said: The monument is one of several jewels in Scotland’s crown and it’s vital that we keep it that way despite the current challenges.

“We firmly believe the best approach is to showcase these jewels together to maximise the benefits from each attraction individually and as a whole.

“That’s the direction we’re going in, working with local organisations and companies, as well as national organisations in heritage and tourism, and will give this matter full consideration to secure the best possible future for the monument, the hard-working staff and the local community.”

The report also outlines several other important issues in managing the transition and preparing for the future so the Monument can be even more established as a focal point for the region’s visitor economy.

This includes reference to a significant decrease in visitor numbers due to lockdown, impacting on ticket sales and other income from parking, merchandise and catering.

The report (available on the Council’s website) also highlights the council’s working group is examining how to keep the Monument open through any transition period, though it may also consider a temporary closure over an exceptionally quiet winter until the tourism market resumes in spring and the impact of Covid-19 has eased.

Depute Leader, Cllr Danny Gibson, added: “I want to thank the staff and board of Stirling District Tourism for managing the Monument on the Council’s behalf over the last 25 years. However, now is the time for a new approach which delivers best value for the public purse but also places the National Wallace Monument at the heart of an integrated strategy to attract visitors to the area.

“We believe the Council assuming responsibility for managing the Monument is the right decision and it’s an approach which I hope Councillors will support on Thursday.”

If approved, the Council will convene a special working group to support this process, involving Historic Environment Scotland, VisitScotland and local organisations. Stirling District Tourism will also be invited to take part.