20 June
Howden Park Centre at night

Howden Park Centre is an arts and theatre venue in Livingston which is operated by West Lothian Leisure.


A report was presented to the Council Executive today on the work undertaken in relation to the request by West Lothian Leisure (WLL) for council consent to cease operation of Howden Park Centre (HPC), Xcite Livingston, Xcite Broxburn Swimming Pool and Xcite Armadale.

West Lothian Leisure have confirmed that all four facilities currently make a significant monthly financial loss and, if the facilities do not cease operation, WLL face the risk of insolvency, which would risk the closure of all Xcite facilities.

Council action

Before a decision was made, last month councillors instructed officers to explore alternative commercial and community options that would allow for continued provision, including inviting expressions of interest and other related matters.  The council also agreed that £140,000 of one-off revenue funding was made available until 31 March 2024 to support the operation of HPC, given that a future programme of events was required to secure its viability and that that many events could not be suitably accommodated elsewhere.


Following that work, a proposal considered to be viable has been received from Reconnect SCIO - who currently operate the Regal Theatre in Bathgate - for the continued operation of Howden Park Centre as a theatre and arts venue, and as the permanent base for Firefly Arts, up to 31 March 2024.

Further work is required to support the transition from WLL to Reconnect SCIO, such as the agreement of lease terms and obtaining Creative Scotland consent to the change but, subject to those being secured, the venue will remain open up to 31 March 2024, and operated by Reconnect SCIO.

Council officers have also been instructed to continue to explore options for operations beyond March 2024.

West Lothian Leisure will therefore cease operations at Howden Park Centre on 31 August 2023.  The council will now work in conjunction with key representatives from WLL and Reconnect SCIO to progress key workstreams on a number of legal, governance, finance, property and human resources matters.

The council has also agreed to:

  • Establish a cross-service project team of council officers to oversee the future continued operation at Howden Park Centre
  • Identify potential business/venue critical capital expenditure requirements, alongside potential resourcing options.
  • Develop a customer and stakeholder engagement plan, to ensure that the necessary consent is obtained from Creative Scotland to the change and that customers and venue users are updated on progress.

Leader of West Lothian Council, Lawrence Fitzpatrick said:

"It is positive that a viable alternative has been identified through this piece of work that will enable Howden Park Centre to remain open and provide arts and theatre provision for the local community and local groups.

"Reconnect SCIO have a good track record of operating a successful arts venue locally and currently operate the Regal Theatre in Bathgate.

"As a priority, officer from the council will continue to help ensure that Howden Park has a successful future from April 2024 onwards.

"Howden Park Centre is an important facility and nobody wants to see it close its doors. The financial reality is so stark that, without another provider taking on the venue, it would be forced to close. The council and West Lothian Leisure cannot continue to deliver the same level of services as before without the funding that would enable us to do that.

"I am incredibly grateful to those that have expressed an interest in the facility and have taken the time to meet with council officers to go over the proposals. There has been a huge amount of support given to Howden Park Centre and I think everyone acknowledges that. I have had the opportunity to meet with representatives of some of these groups and I know how much Howden Park Centre, and the availability of a local arts venue, means to them. I completely understand and share in their belief that West Lothian should have a successful and thriving arts venue."