MANAGEMENT and operation of the Wallace Monument is to be taken over by Stirling Council.

Elected members voted last week for the council to take responsibility for the iconic structure from the end of November.

The monument has been in the local authority's ownership, but was leased to Stirling District Tourism (SDT).

Councillors had already agreed the move to end the 25 year lease in March and then in June, ratifying the decision on Thursday, September 17.

There had been protracted negotiations between SDT and the local authority over a lease that “offered best value for Stirling Council taxpayers”, said the local authority.

Ahead of last week's meeting, SDT had called for the monument to be taken into community ownership.

Concerns were raised by SDT that funds raised by the monument would be diverted away to support other projects, rather than being reinvested in the structure and fabric of the building.

READ MORE: Call to take Wallace Monument into community ownership

Following last week's decision, council leader Councillor 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.”

At the same meeting, the council decided there would be no temporary closure of the building, as per an earlier suggestion in council documents, when the local authority takes over management.

The council says this will depend on positive partnership engagement with STD during the transition period.

Staff will have their jobs and pay protected as part of the transfer.

STD, which managed to attraction for the past 25 years, has since called for clarity and committment from the council, adding the local authority has taken on the monument alone, without essential visitor services and facilities.

Zillah Jamieson, SDT chair, said: “This is of course a hugely disappointing decision and one that we believe is not in the best interests of the monument. 

"We are keen to work closely with Stirling Council, and to reach an acceptable agreement which allows for essential assets to be transferred, and which enables the monument to remain open for visitors.

“We believe that the status of the monument as a successful award-winning attraction with international appeal and renown, which has benefitted from a sustained programme of investment through the management of Stirling District Tourism, is now at risk, and that the option of community ownership should now be pursued for its future protection.”

Cllr Danny Gibson, depute council leader, added: “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 convene a special working group to support its fresh approach, involving Historic Environment Scotland, VisitScotland and other organisations in the area.

SDT will be invited to take part.