Safety work needed after first Bus close Falkirk bus station

A fund to boost ailing town centres will be used to help to improve safety at the area between Newmarket Street and Lint Riggs.

Around £550,000 has been earmarked to change the layout of the bus stops to improve road safety and improve the look of the area.

However, no firm proposals have been revealed yet and Falkirk Council says there will be a public consultation next year with an opportunity to comment and give feedback.

The money is part of a £2 million fund from the Scottish Government to improve town centres which was announced earlier in the year.

It was agree then that the money would be split between Falkirk, Grangemouth and Bo’ness as the areas most in need of investment.

But there was controversy at the most recent council executive as the convener of Bo’ness Community Council pleaded to treat her town fairly – and ask why Bo’ness was getting such a small share of the £2 million windfall.

Madelene Hunt, who was also there to represent Bo’net networking group, claimed that Bo’ness’ share of the cash had dwindled – and that at one point the town had been promised £1 million to improve access to its library and install free WiFi in the town centre.

Mrs Hunt noticed that Bo’ness will actually receive around £500,000 worth of works in a report that was presented to councillors at a meeting of the executive on Tuesday.

She wanted to know how the money had been allocated and why so little had ended up going to Bo’ness.

“Why once again is Falkirk getting the bulk of the money and little towns get a wee something to keep them quiet?” she asked.

But council leader Cecil Meiklejohn said: “Projects were discussed with the communities and the funding was split based on these projects. This was about what would make an impact in each town centre.”

Of the money Bo’ness will get, £200,000 will be used to make its library’s community rooms more accessible; £16,000 to install WiFi;  and £280,000 improve properties on South Street and East Partings –  all projects that had been agreed as priorities by the community.

Councillor David Alexander, portfolio holder for economic development, said that Bo’ness had been promised “a programme, rather than a specific sum” and that programme was being delivered.

Director of development Rhona Geisler said the decision was very much based on delivering practical projects that were priorities for their communities.

She said: “Falkirk is the largest of our town centres, it has the longest list of projects and if you look at that list we haven’t gone anywhere near them all.”

Councillor Alexander said that the Bo’ness project had come in ‘under budget’ and the money was needed for the Falkirk project.

He told the meeting: “Why is Falkirk getting the greatest share? You only have to walk along Newmarket Street to see the reason for that.

“Perhaps if First Bus hadn’t abandoned the town centre location they held we’d be in a better position.

“We certainly wouldn’t have needed to introduce some of the draconian safety works that have been proposed as part of this report.”

The aim of the Town Centre Fund 2019-2020 is to enable local authorities to stimulate and support place-based economic investments which encourage town centres to diversify and flourish, creating footfall through local improvements and partnerships.

Grangemouth’s share of the funding windall will be used to demolish long-standing vacant and unlettable commercial properties as well as provide WiFi to Charlotte Dundas and Grangemouth town centre.

Falkirk’s share of the cash will be used for upgrade car park ticket machines and improve signage.

The money will also provide luggage lockers at Falkirk Grahamston Station to support tourism, while the town centre will also get Wi-Fi.