The iconic structure will return to full Council ownership and operation when its current 25-year lease arrangement ends in November this year.
Operating either as a Council-run asset or through a new arm’s-length external organisation, plans are now underway to reposition the 150-year-old attraction as the centre-piece of the area’s tourism portfolio.
Monument must offer value to Stirling's people
Stirling Council Leader, Cllr Scott Farmer explained: “The National Wallace Monument is a treasured local asset for the people of Stirling and it rightly holds a place as one of the most instantly recognisable attractions in the country, if not the world.
“It is for this very reason that we have decided to protect its future by bringing it back in-house and placing it at the very centre of our strategy for tourism and culture across Stirling.
“The Monument brings a sense of pride to the whole area, and it belongs to the people of Stirling, so it’s only right that the business plan and operating model behind it offers them the best value it possibly can.”
Existing lease arrangements
The National Wallace Monument is currently operated on a lease basis by Stirling District Tourism – an independent charitable company.
Stirling Council has been conducting a review all of its contractual arrangements with external organisations to ensure Best Value since November 2018. This is a statutory requirement and included in this review was the lease with SDT.
As part of this particular assessment, Stirling Council engaged the services of a nationally-recognised external consultancy firm, which carried out an independent review of the lease.
The reports concluded that the current lease arrangements, signed in 1995, no longer represent best value for not just Stirling Council as partner, but the tax payers of the Stirling Council local authority area.
The Council has made significant attempts to negotiate and establish a new lease arrangement or a suitable agreement with SDT to enter into a new partnership vehicle where Stirling Council could gain greater assurance over the future management of the Monument.
Those negotiations have failed to yield either a lease deal that offered best value, or a suitable agreement for a new partnership.
Fresh approach ahead
At a meeting of the Full Council on Thursday, 5 March, elected members unanimously agreed a report which recommended proceeding with plans for the Council to take on the operation of the Monument, either in-house or through a new ALEO, following the conclusion of the existing lease on 28 November.
Depute Leader of Stirling Council, Cllr Danny Gibson, said: “We see the National Wallace Monument as one of the primary attractions in Stirling and we want to safeguard its position and the future of tourism in the area by operating it with a model that is best for business and best for the local tax payer.
“In addition to making sure it provides best value, we also believe it should act as the stimulus to support the broader tourism economy and local supply chain and Stirling Council has bold plans for its future.
“Under the Council’s operation, the Monument will form stronger partnerships with other assets across Stirling, including Stirling Castle and the Engine Shed, and bring a fresh approach to the provision of culture and tourism locally.
“With profits from the attraction also contributing to the wider benefit and improvement of tourism and culture across the entire Stirling Council area, this represents a clear decision from the Council to provide best value for its residents.”