Sure it’s going to work

Dennis Goldie
Dennis Goldie

The business-building team put together to bring investment and jobs to the district will have to hire temporary staff so it is ready for ‘business’ on October 1.

The new Growth Investment Unit launched by Falkirk Council to replace Falkirk for Business will not have a full compliment of people until next year, councillors have been told.

So far a principal officer and three business advisors have still to be recruited.

Director of development services Rhona Geisler told the economic strategy committee that three of the seven employees entitled to switch under the TUPE system had decided not to and a recruitment campaign to fill the vacancies is planned.

She said: “The council has made preparations to supplement on an interim basis the personnel and skills transferring under TUPE so that a full service can be delivered from October 1. This will be done by using short-term contractors as necessary to cover parts of the service which currently rely on contractors and to fill gaps if business advisors choose not to transfer to the council.”

Committee convener Councillor Dennis Goldie insisted: “Suitably qualified people will be in place and running the show in 10 days time.”

The decision to bring the role of delivering business support services ‘in house’ has been criticised by the SNP Group on the council.

Councillor Tom Coleman said: “This was supposed to be a seamless transition but it’s not going to be that. There is going to be no continuity and that could lead to problems. At the moment there would appear to be no qualified people in place except administration people. I understand the professionals who were with Falkirk for Business are now working elsewhere. Will they be offered short-term contracts? It’s all very distressing.”

The Labour-led council insists the Growth Investment Unit has the potential to create efficiency savings of up to £140,000 a year to provide additional help to business.

The director insisted: “Significant progress has already been made.” She stressed: “It will be exactly the same service delivered in a different way.”

The unit has already announced a new small business grant scheme will be launched next month offering up to 15 small firms cash help of between £500 and £3000.

Councillor Goldie said: “The new unit has the right skills to help businesses to establish and grow. The grant scheme is just one way of how we will deliver what local businesses really need. We have set ambitious targets but confident they can be met.”