Bo’ness One Stop Shop could go

The Falkirk Council One Stop Shop in East Pier Street that will close in January
The Falkirk Council One Stop Shop in East Pier Street that will close in January

The One Stop Shop in Bo’ness will close in January as part of a Falkirk Council pledge to deliver a better service to customers.

Staff will be relocated when an ‘advice hub’ to cover the east of the district begins operating from the Grangemouth One Stop Shop in December.

If it is a success, two others will follow in the central and west areas.

The move was approved when the council’s executive met - but criticised by the SNP.

Councillor David Alexander accused the Labour-led administration of going back on its budget promise a fortnight ago that no One Stop Shops would close.

He claimed: “We have been seriously misled.”

Councillors were told the new approach will allow the council to respond more effectively to householders’ needs and make better use of its public buildings and community facilities. The plan will see an increase in the number of locations where customers can pay their council bills using PayPoint outlets in local shops and post offices and housing and finance staff based in other premises to offer advice.

Stuart Ritchie, director of corporate and housing services, said: “A number of factors mean the existing model of service delivery is no longer fit for purpose. This is an opportunity to improve the counter customer service experience through realigning our provision to meet the needs of our customers.

“It is anticipated outreach services will be provided at a number of facilities, possibly including Bo’ness Library, the Bo’ness Community Education Base within Bo’ness Academy, Bo’ness Recreation Centre and Kersiebank Community Project. There will also be ten shops in Bo’ness and 12 in Grangemouth, where people can pay their rent and council tax.”

Council leader Craig Martin claimed: “This will bring huge benefit to those who need the most vital of our services most.

“Advice and support on housing, welfare and benefits issues can potentially be delivered from one central point but with outreach into communities that will allow people to access services locally. It is how people have told us they want services delivered in the future and will make a difference in terms of saving them time and money.”

Councillor Alexander accused the administration of “opportunism” and called for the plan to be referred to the scrutiny committee, but the recommendation was accepted by six votes to three.