Decision taken to back football club
CRUMBLING Brockville was a step closer to being bulldozed to make way for a supermarket last night (Wednesday).
Fans and club representatives watched as Falkirk Council voted to back a draft offer for Brockville and to reaffirm their commitment to Falkirk Football Club.
The catch is the deal must include 115 car parking spaces at Hope Street, Falkirk intended potentially as the site of a petrol station.
The council's policy and resources committee had already given the green light last month, but Labour councillors were concerned at a lack of information and called it into the full council.
The controversial issue was discussed in public after members agreed not to reveal the name of the developer or detailed figures.
What is certain is the deal would mean around 20 million investment and 350 jobs.
It would also signify a major step forward in the club's quest to relocate to Westfield.
The council owns two-sevenths of Brockville, which it has already pledged to plough into a new home for Falkirk FC owner of the rest.
A letter from club chairman Campbell Christie, read out to the council, committed the club's share from the sale of Brockville towards a new stadium.
He vowed the amount invested in Westfield would be no less than the club's net proceeds, minus just over 2 million it owes to free the stadium up for sale.
There was exhaustive debate at yesterday's meeting as Labour members jousted with the SNP-led administration.
Council leader David Alexander said the community would gain 350 jobs and hundreds of car parking spaces at the store. There would also be construction employment.
He emphasised the district valuer, who is independent, had declared the council was getting a ''very good'' deal.
Mr Alexander warned the developer was looking at a number of sites across Scotland and ''time is of the essence''.
He insisted: ''Do we have the courage to grasp this opportunity or are we going to delay, delay, delay and risk losing it?''
However, Labour leader John Connolly voiced continued concerns over a lack of information. He urged members to back an amendment instructing officers ''as a matter of urgency'' to provide maximum information and consequences for the council taxpayer.
He emphasised the Labour administration had been in charge when the club was offered the ground at Westfield for a nominal rent and it was agreed to invest the council's share of the receipt from Brockville.
Councillor Gerry Goldie said there had been an assurance of public consultation, but warned: ''The consultation should come before any decisions.''
He claimed: ''This is an application by stealth.''
Councillor Dennis Goldie made reference to a letter, sent by East Stirlingshire FC, which revealed directors unhappy at perceived unfairness could instigate a ''judicial review'' of the council's actions.
However, members voted 16 to 10 to back the decisions of the policy and resources committee.
They authorised officers to arrange formal discussions with Falkirk FC to identify a ''delivery vehicle'' for the community stadium and also confirmed the commitment to full public consultation over and above the planning process.