A row has broken out over how a potential grant for the regeneration of Denny town centre is spent and the benefits it would provide.
It was reported last week that Falkirk Council had applied for £1.4 million from the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund (RCGF), a scheme led by the Scottish Government.
The local authority said that if the bid is successful it would mean the start of building work in Denny would be delayed as the cash can only be used between April 2015 and March 2016.
The RCGF funding would not increase the overall £6.5 million budget for the building project, but would instead allow the council to spend less of its own money.
That prompted a heated debate at a meeting of Denny Community Council on Monday evening. Convener Colin Belbin, speaking yesterday (Wednesday), said: “Denny does not benefit from this new funding. Instead, it only sees more delays to the project to regenerate the town centre.”
But Falkirk Council leader Craig Martin insisted that any delays to the start of the construction would not stop phase one of the project – which involves the demolition of Church Walk and the construction of a new building containing shops and a library – being completed by August 2016.
He added that the local authority had a previous application for RCGF funding turned down by the Scottish Government but had been encouraged to apply again.
“My view is clear,” he said. “It would have been a dereliction of duty if Falkirk Council had not applied for this funding.
“There will be no delay in the work being completed, regardless of whether we are successful in our application or not. Falkirk Council has committed £6.5 million to this project, and that will not change even if the bid is turned down.
“We are committed to working with the people of Denny to deliver this project.”
Councillor Brian McCabe, a long-time critic of Falkirk Council’s handling of the regeneration scheme, said that Denny had been used as “a potential cash cow” by Falkirk Council.
“In the application, Falkirk Council used data to highlight Denny as an area of multiple deprivations with higher levels of Job Seeker Allowance claimants than in Falkirk and Scotland nationally,” he said. “They also quoted the trend for town centre crime.
“Despite using all of this negative data, we were then informed that the £1.4million is not actually additional money to Denny at all.
“So what do the people of Denny get? Another delay to their town centre.”