IRVINE'S Harbour Arts Centre (HAC) will NOT close as part of North Ayrshire Council budget cuts.

That is what the press were told by council leader Marie Burns in a pre-budget media briefing earlier today, Thursday February 23. She said closing the HAC was "not on the table".

It comes after months of uncertainty for the beloved Irvine venue which, according to leaked council dossier, was being considered for closure as the council looked to bridge a funding gap of over £10million.

Though the savings made by axing the venue would have paled in comparison to this - just £49,000.

However, the closure of Irvine's only music venue and theatre now looks to be off the table.

Addressing a question on the building's future, Cllr Burns informed the press that this will be the case come budget day on Wednesday, March 1.

Explaining part of the rationale behind the decision, she said: ”Things came about as a result of a leak and I said after a council meeting how dangerous something like that can be because every year we have the same budget process with a list of things for consideration, some of which are never taken.

"As an administration the HAC and Arran Outdoor Centre are not things that we are proposing to close as part of the budget.

“The problem with some of these things being leaked is that people are concerned about losing their jobs unnecessarily.

"As an Irvine councillor, I think the HAC is beloved and it has got a great reputation.

"Culture is important and people need that in their lives and why shouldn’t they have it. 

“A service like the HAC is really important, we have listened to the feedback from  citizens not just in Irvine but across North Ayrshire who want to maintain the HAC so it won’t be part of the budget proposals."

While Cabinet Member for Finance and Procurement Christina Larsen added: "I am delighted that the SNP Administration is not proposing to close the HAC."

It will come as welcome news to many in Irvine who would have feared the closure of the 100-seater venue on the harbourside, which has operated in the town for over half a century.

The decision looks set to be made official when the full council meet to vote on the 2023/24 budget proposals on March 1.