The SNP at three different levels have come out against the proposals of Falkirk Council’s Labour / Tory Coalition to build a new £20m headquarters at a time when council leaders are claiming a £46m black hole in finances for the delivery of essential services.
At the meeting of Falkirk Council held on 24 June the council’s SNP Group voted against taking the proposed demolition of not only the current Municipal Buildings but also the Falkirk Town Hall.
Speaking in the debate, SNP Group Leader, Cecil Meiklejohn said,
“When the current Labour / Tory Administration claim on the one hand that they have a massive overspend on current programmes but then declare that a top priority is the provision on a new headquarters you have to question their judgement.
Their handling of the finances of Falkirk Council does not instill confidence in their assertion that they can deliver a new HQ as a cost neutral development.
At a time of Westminster enforced austerity you can understand why this is being described as a vanity project by many outside the bubble that is Falkirk Council.”
The council’s SNP Group was supported by the Party’s local MSPs, Michael Matheson and Angus MacDonald.
Falkirk West MSP, Michael Matheson said,
“When the Labour / Tory coalition are closing facilities such as the Rowans Centre for Respite Care then it seems crass to spend £20m on a new council HQ.”
Falkirk East MSP, Angus MacDonald said,
“I have been approached by a significant number of council employees concerned that what is being proposed is not fit for purpose. To put around 650 staff in a space designed for 450 is madness and will lead to trouble when complete.
Personally, I would rather see the money used for more council housing and adequate schools in Falkirk district, not a shiny new headquarters for themselves.”
The proposal to demolish the existing town hall and replace it with a 400 seat auditorium with Forth Valley College at Middlefield was described as “unambitious” by newly elected MP for Falkirk, John McNally who went on to say,
“Falkirk needs a civic centre that is large enough to accommodate more than 400 people. It appears that as Forth Valley College are building an auditorium within their new campus then Falkirk Council are piggybacking on these proposal.
The council would be as well renaming the St Mungo’s High School hall the new Falkirk Town Hall as it has a greater capacity thank that proposed on the college site.
Quite frankly the lazy lack of ambition of the Labour / Tory coalition administration is becoming increasingly worrying.”