West Lothian Council accused of abandoning Winchburgh promises

An artist's impression of new facilities in Winchburgh.An artist's impression of new facilities in Winchburgh.
An artist's impression of new facilities in Winchburgh.
A local community has accused West Lothian Council of abandoning promises to provide a partnership building for the area despite being the centre of major housing developments.

Local councillors have been told it could be five years before new ‘partnership-style’ facilities open in Winchburgh. And even then they will not resemble the partnership centres opening elsewhere, where council services are welded together with other community provisions such as GP surgeries.

At most Winchburgh – set to grow to a 12,000 population by 2040 – will get a library attached to a new GP surgery.

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Other council community facilities may be accommodated on the new high schools’ campus.

Partnership buildings are seen as the future model in the county for providing services, and the fight to ensure Winchburgh is fully included has been taken up by local politicians.

At the latest local area committee, SNP group leader Janet Campbell asked Estates Manager Paul Kettrick for a progress report.

She said: “I was given assurances by a senior officer that communication would be resumed with Lothian Health Board, that was more than six months ago, regarding a joint approach to developing a partnership centre.”

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Mr Kettrick said that the centre would be an NHS led facility. The council’s commitment was to include library facilities. Previous proposals had included the inclusion of a new police station and other partners but, said Mr Kettrick: “The world has moved on in terms of Police Scotland and their requirements.”

Councillor Campbell suggested her understanding of partnership was one of equals. The head of planning Craig McCorriston said that had never been the suggestion and that the partnership centre was always an NHS led facility.

He said that discussions were ongoing, but his understanding was that GP services were considered fit to deal with growth in the area over the next five years. His concern, should that be the case he said, would be the delay in providing library services.

He reiterated the council’s earlier position that: “discussion is ongoing about community use of the school facilities there which will involve some activities which might have historically taken place in a partnership environment.”

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Two new secondary schools – the largest investment in the school estate in the county for decades – are being built in the area, with the new Sinclair Academy and Winchburgh Academy expected to take 600 pupils each.

Conservative Chris Horne sought assurance on library provision as the village grows into a town.

He also pointed out that the new council facilities in East Calder served the existing village and the new neighbouring community of Calderwood – another mass housing Core Development Area.

That new building was recently renamed the Dave King Partnership Centre after the late Labour member for the ward, who died in the summer.

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Councillor Horne said: “Whitburn is getting a new partnership centre, East Calder is getting a new partnership centre. Winchburgh not getting a partnership centre, as the biggest Core Development Area, just screams ‘bizarre’.”

Mr Kettrick said that the East Calder partnership provision was put in place to replace existing council facilities in the village which would not be fit for purpose as the population expanded. That is not the case in Winchburgh where existing council services are provided from the Strathbrock Centre in Broxburn.