Probe into claim senior Falkirk Council officer lost temper and shouted at councillors

An investigation is underway into claims that a senior official at Falkirk Council lost his temper and shouted at councillors after they voted against officers’ advice at a crucial meeting.

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 9:45 am

One of the three Labour councillors involved, Dennis Goldie (72), now says he has made a formal complaint to Kenneth Lawrie, chief executive, demanding a full enquiry.

Councillor Goldie told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “There was a disturbance in the Labour room with a senior officer – I don’t want to name him because there will be a disciplinary procedure, I take it – acting in the most astonishing manner because councillors had voted against him.”

“What does this sort of behaviour tell you about Falkirk Council?

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“It doesn’t matter if you win, lose or draw – officers aren’t entitled to do that. Nobody is.”

The alleged outburst is understood to have happened following a meeting about the future of the council’s municipal buildings and town hall, which took place on September 29.

Tensions were running high as councillors were faced with what was said to be the biggest decision that had been taken in 50 years.

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Kenneth Lawrie, chief executive of Falkirk Council

At the meeting, officers had produced reports looking at two options.

One would see a new HQ and arts centre in Falkirk High Street in a development that would also include council offices.

The other – suggested by the Labour group – was for two separate developments, with an arts centre on the High Street and an office building on the site of Westbank clinic, beside the current municipal buildings.

But at the meeting, when the reports revealed that the proposal for two buildings would cost an extra £14 million, Labour said they could not support the High Street plans.

With the support of the Conservatives, they voted to rule out the idea of developing the High Street site at all.

Sources say that following the vote some of the staff involved with the project – who were praised for working so hard to pull the information together over the summer – were in tears after the decision.

And after the meeting, there was an angry response from town centre businesses who had hoped that a new HQ and arts centre would help to regenerate Falkirk High Street.

However, the Labour and Conservative councillors involved stood by their decision that spending £45 million on a new HQ and arts centre could not be justified and that the High Street location was not suitable.

Responding to the criticism, Labour group leader Robert Bissett said in a statement: “We believe this was the wrong project, in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Two other councillors who are reported to have been with Mr Goldie said they could not comment but would allow the investigation to take place.

Mr Goldie said that now the investigation was underway he would be speaking to the council through a solicitor.

A spokesperson for Falkirk Council said: “We are aware that an issue has been raised but we cannot comment on individual employee matters.”

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