Council budget cuts hit town centre management

Falkirk High Street has experienced some ups and downs in recent times
Falkirk High Street has experienced some ups and downs in recent times

The town centre team responsible for promoting Falkirk area shops and events will have to do their job with less money and less staff this year.

At a meeting of Falkirk Council’s external scrutiny committee last Thursday members heard a report on Falkirk Towns Ltd for the period 2014/15, but it is this year and the next which is causing concern.

Falkirk Towns Ltd received £188,890 from Falkirk Council both in 2013/14 and 2014/15, 47 per cent of the company’s total income. The scrutiny committee heard it had been another good year for the organisation, but there were difficult times ahead due to cuts in the funding from the council.

Alex Fleming, town centre manager for Falkirk, said: “We are part funded by the council and that was under review. At a meeting of our board on February 26 we took the decision, in order to combat the reduction in funding, to have a reduction in staff.

“Fortunately we had a member of staff who was happy to take redundancy.”

Assistant town centre manager Mary Jane Armstrong is the person who will be moving on and town centre management said no decisions had been made yet about how they will work within these new constraints.

The town centre manager added: “We are going to have to look at what can continue to be delivered in the district.”

Falkirk Towns Ltd runs the Falkirk Business Improvement District (BID), but that is up for renewal in May and if it is not renewed that may affect the company’s ability to attract funding.

One of the BID priorities is to promote the town centre and its shops during the day and its night time economy – pubs, clubs and takeaways. The new Poundland store moving into High Street and the Watt Brothers branch opening in the Howgate Centre later in the year were mentioned as a positive for the town.

The move towards Falkirk becoming a tourism town was also highlighted, with Falkirk Towns Ltd looking to take advantage of the Kelpies attracting short stay visitors to the area.

Councillor Gordon Hughes said: “We don’t actually have a tourism office in the town centre any more. We have to look again at that.”