Bo’ness buildings part of council’s property review

Major facilities including Bo'ness Town Halls could be closed or transferred to communities to run.
Major facilities including Bo'ness Town Halls could be closed or transferred to communities to run.

Making more use of schools could be the key to Falkirk Council transforming its property portfolio from a large number of decaying buildings to fewer modern facilities.

Smaller offices, more shared space and flexible working are on the cards as Falkirk Council  looks closely at where it can get rid of some of the properties it owns in its Strategic Property Review.

But the council’s aim to reduce the £22 million it spends on running costs – including over £1m every year on leasing private properties – is not without controversy.

It could mean major facilities including Bo’ness and Grangemouth town halls being closed or transferred to communities to run.

Other suggestions including closing the elderly Bo’ness Recreation Centre and moving it into Bo’ness Academy, a move that has worried local people who are concerned what the opening hours might be and whether all of the facilities will make the move.

The draft plan is asking councillors to look at ways to make better use of fewer facilities – including using schools more as community facilities, with Braes High being used in a pilot project.

The latest report, presented to Falkirk Council’s executive, shows that the council hopes it will be able to access some of the £1 billion funds the Scottish Government has set aside for its ‘Investment in Learning Estate Fund’.

Proposals include non-educational staff and other partners being given office space and improving access for the community to non-teaching areas.

But with 28 offices in 10 different areas which accommodate 1500 members of staff, there are many ways in which slimming its property portfolio would help save cash.

Councillors were updated at the latest meeting of the council’s executive – but the Conservative group was not persuaded to approve the draft document that lays out the way forward.

They have, however, agreed to attend workshops that use the information to plan for the future and come up with an acceptable property strategy.

The property review is part of a transformation throughout the council.

Dubbed ‘Council of the Future’, the aim is for the council to change the way it works and modernise to become for innovative and responsive.