West Lothian news: Popular animal attraction in Beecraigs Country Park to shut due to budget cuts
West Lothian attraction announces closure with animals hoped to be rehomed
A popular animal visitor attraction in West Lothian has announced it is closing due to funding cuts. The news is a major blow for Beecraigs park near Linlithgow, which is the home to red deer herd, Highland cattle fold, belted Galloways and Hebridean and North Ronaldsay sheep. It is expected to shut in April, though an exact date has yet to be confirmed.
The animals are a big draw for visitors, who can get closer access to view the animals in the viewing shed. The shed is also used for lambing, calving cows and as extra winter housing. West Lothian Council said the move is part of a wider cost-cutting drive as they are forced to make total savings of £39.4million over five years, with £15.5million required in 2023/2024.
It comes after operators were forced to close Gorgie Farm in Edinburgh – one of the last left in Scotland – due to rocketing costs and lack of funding. Bosses at Beecraigs posted a notice of closure on a board at the farm which said animals will be moved over the summer.
West Lothian Council said in a statement: "The Animal Attraction at Beecraigs Country Park is to close later this year. The council have significant and sustained budget pressures caused by increasing costs and a growing population, which is combined with Scottish Government grant funding not being sufficient to meet the increased costs faced by the council. This results in a budget gap.
“Over the next five years the council estimate that they will have to make savings of approximately £39.4 million with £15.5 million of savings required in 2023/24. The council is legally required to balance its budget - therefore the council must make savings.
"A number of budget saving measures have been approved which will allow the council to balance its budget. One of those measures is the closure of the animal attraction. Savings measures overall will be implemented over the next five years with some measures being implemented from April 2023."