Calls to move some council services to HQ

Falkirk Council HQ
Falkirk Council HQ

Cash-strapped Falkirk Council has the opportunity to save some money by moving personnel from outlying offices into its headquarters.

That was the view of several opposition councillors when the term ‘co-location’ came up at Tuesday’s meeting of Falkirk Council’s executive committee during discussions on a strategic property review.

The overall target for the review, which is being carried out by an organisation called HubCo at no cost to the council, is to identify significant savings options from the local authority’s operational property portfolio, which costs £22.28 million per year.

The portfolio includes schools, offices, depots, sports centres, residential homes and day centres, One Stop Shops, libraries, a crematorium, town halls and registrars.

Councillor Tom Coleman said: “Around 60 per cent of our property portfolio is taken up by education and there’s not a lot we can do about that. The portfolio costs us £22 million and we are looking for savings of at least 10 per cent, that’s a target of £2.2 million.

“What we could do is locate development services here. We could move as many of these functions onto one site as quickly as possible.”

Councillor David Alexander said: “Are we missing an opportunity here, looking at this building? We know this issue of replacement or refurbishment of the headquarters is not going to come up again before the elections next year.

“Can’t we make some of the changes in this building and create the space that is required? Can we look into how it can be adapted to accommodate more people? This will allow us to move people from offices outwith this building into the headquarters and make significant savings.

“I believe the changes required to the building could be made relatively cheaply and quickly to provide co-location. The opportunity is there if we ask HubCo to target this particular issue.”

Councillor Adrian Mahoney responded: “We were told the cost of refurbishment to the council HQ is greater than constructing a new building and now you are talking about refurbishment.”

He added the third floor of the council headquarters had been successfully freeing up space through a ‘hot desking’ policy.

Director of development services Rhona Geisler said: “This study by HubCo will look at the entire council portfolio, including the headquarters and we will identify what capacity there is here.

“Repairs would have to be carried out on the headquarters before any internal recalibration could take place.”

Members agreed to hear an update on the report, which would include details on opportunities to make savings, at their next meeting in August.

It is anticipated the outcome of the review will identify a list of core properties providing the flexibility to meet future community needs and removing any duplication.

It will also highlight alternative options focussing on a move away from single service locations, potential options for closure and disposal and, of course, co-location, which is the sharing of use within core properties.