STIRLING Council is looking into a free entry plan for the Wallace Monument as it prepares to take over the running of the attraction.

The administration is interested in giving local residents free entry to the monument next year, saying it would secure the attraction’s future.

However, opposition councillors think it might be a big risk given the current restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic.

The SNP/Labour administration’s finance and economy committee discussed the possibility last night, before it is set to take over the attraction’s management from Stirling District Tourism on November 27.

Stirling Council’s senior manager for economic development and communities, Stuart Oliver, said that “the setting of admission fees, special offers and incentives under a dynamic, market-led approach will be a key element of ensuring the success of the attraction during the challenging tourism recovery period and beyond”.

A report put before the finance committee said: “Core pricing for admissions to the monument will remain as currently set. Any proposed changes to core pricing would be brought to the finance and economy committee for consideration.

“We have been clear that our approach to the management of the attraction will be to maximise access for local residents while leveraging benefits of visitation into investment in the wider tourism economy.”

Stirling District Tourism currently runs the attraction on behalf of the local council, but its lease comes to an end next week.

In September councillors voted to take charge of the monument despite a plea from the current operators, who accused the administration of failing to invest and claimed changing hands could put William Wallace’s legacy at risk.

Work is now underway to put the landmark at the centre of an “ambitious tourism and cultural approach” for Stirling and the surrounding area.

The November 27 change-over date was described by officials as “the start of a bold and exciting tourism offering for the region”.