Falkirk Council wants usual Fire HQ decision rethink

The site next to Falkirk Fire Station which was considered for the new fire and rescue service HQ''Picture: Michael Gillen
The site next to Falkirk Fire Station which was considered for the new fire and rescue service HQ''Picture: Michael Gillen

Council chiefs are urging a rethink on the decision to snub Falkirk and build the new Scottish fire and rescue headquarters in Stirling.

Last week, the go-ahead was given for further work to be done on the preferred site at Kildean on the outskirts of the city for the £7 million project.

But Falkirk Council officials are now asking fire bosses to look again at the figures used coming to that decision.

It followed a meeting of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) board when members were asked to study a detailed report compiled by Deloitte Real Estate looking at a raft of options for a new national base for the unified service.

When the new single body was created in 2013 an interim headquarters was set up in Perth with the intention of eventually establishing a “fit-for-purpose” centre.

The initial remit was that it should lie within the triangle bounded by Glasgow, Perth and Edinburgh.

Last November the board ordered a full appraisal to be carried out at earmarked sites - Stirling Fire Station and Kildean Business Park in Stirling; The Atrium and Perth Fire Station in Perth; and Falkirk Gateway.

The report was to consider monetary and non-monetary factors, a risk assessment, procurement considerations and reach a conclusion before making a recommendation to the board.

The final report by deputy chief officer Alex Clark concluded that Kildean and Falkirk were similar in terms of location, availability and associated costs.

However, it stated: “The principal difference relates to infrastructure – while Falkirk’s road network and access points are already developed, the necessary infrastructure at Stirling Kildean is under construction and due to be delivered in the near future. The infrastructure includes site access roads and services connections.”

Perth Atrium is the cheapest option, with the Stirling Fire Station most expensive.

Mr Clark’s report added: “The non-monetary analysis attributes the highest score to the site at Kildean Business Park. It is closely followed by Falkirk Gateway, due to the similarities between the sites.

“Both locations are characterised by convenient access, shortest travelling time for staff and visitors, large and flexible footprint and prominent location.”

He concluded that after looking at all the information provided, Stirling’s Kildean site was the top ranked option, with the Falkirk site, adjacent to the town’s fire station, following closely behind.

When the board met in Ayr last Thursday, it rubberstamped the recommendation to proceed with further work on the Stirling site.

But Falkirk Council wants service officials to think again. A spokesman said; “We have noted the recent decision of the board. However, in order to ensure absolute accuracy, we have asked that some of the assumptions and figures used by the consultants are re-evaluated.

“We hope that this further examination may have some bearing on a final decision,” she added.

Councillor Craig Martin, council leader, said: “I believe the Falkirk site is of high quality and met all the criteria, as well as having the additional support from the TIF (Tax Incremental Financing). For the fire and rescue board to choose another site is very disappointing.”

The proposed new headquarters project needs approval from Justice Secretary Michael Matheson, who is also the Falkirk West MSP, before building can start.