WORK has begun on transferring the running of libraries, museums and town halls in Renfrewshire to a new trust.

Councillors say the move will result in more investment, greater community involvement in decision making and support economic regeneration.

Renfrewshire Leisure will in future be responsible for the council's 12 libraries, four museums and three town halls.

The council has also decided to double its investment in community halls and facilities to £3million.

Council leader Mark Macmillan said: "The combination of additional investment and a new approach to managing services and facilities will deliver for people and communities across Renfrewshire."

Renfrewshire Leisure has more than doubled customer visits to sports facilities and increased jobs by over 50% since it took over the management of sports centres and swimming pools in 2003.

Council chiefs believe incorporating cultural services into the trust can deliver a similar boost for a sector the council has put at the centre of its programme to regenerate the economy of the area.

James Harte, convener of the council's sports, leisure and culture policy board, said transferring the libraries, museums and town halls to Renfrewshire Leisure would retain them in public ownership but they would be run by a not-for-profit organisation with charitable status.

He added: "There are strong economic reasons for creating an expanded trust. At a time when the council is facing a funding shortfall of between £20m-£30m over the next three years, it makes sense to take advantage of the £600,000 savings from business rates which trust status would deliver every year.

"The trust's facilities and services will continue to receive public funding from Renfrewshire Council but will also have more flexibility to attract additional funding from other sources.

"There will be increased opportunities for community and business representatives to be directly involved in decision making on the future of cultural services through representation on the trust board.

Sports development, the council's Active Schools programmes, bowling greens and pavilions and some community facilities will also transfer to the new trust.

The aim is to provide a better, more streamlined service in a number of areas including pitch bookings.