Council urged to “listen” to Bo’ness community amid row over property review consultation
Bo’Ness Community Council has called on Falkirk Council to review its working practices and “listen” to local residents.
The Bo’ness group spoke out after it asked FC officials to meet with it more than nine months ago. It’s still waiting for the meeting to take place.
It also raised concerns over the running over the Council’s new emergency executive, which has no representatives from Bo’ness, Grangemouth and Bonnybridge – but multiple members from other areas.
Madelene Hunt, the chair of Bo’ness Community Council, said: “We endorsed a fairly lengthy motion at our last meeting expressing concerns about the way Falkirk Council is being run.
“We feel that the local authority needs to adequately show that it is working with local communities and listening to them. We do not feel this is currently happening.”
She added: “The composition of Falkirk’s Emergency Executive – which has wide-range powers over policy and spending – is one example. There are no voices on it from either Bo’ness or Grangemouth. We’ve asked Falkirk Council to reconsider the membership to allow fairer representation from across the local area.”
The Community Council also raised concerns about Falkirk Council’s Strategic Property Review.
A report, authored by the Council’s new chief executive, Kenneth Lawrie, proposed putting a number of buildings and assets – such as Kinneil Estate, its Museum and Bo’ness Town Hall – up for potential community asset transfer and also closing Bo’ness Recreation Centre and moving it into Bo’ness Academy.
There also fears that Bo’ness Library could also be moved into the school.
Bo’ness Community Council asked Mr Lawrie and Maureen Campbell, the chief executive of Falkirk Community Trust, to a meeting to explain their ideas. The meeting has still to take place.
Mrs Hunt said: “We made our first approach to these people last October. We were asked to wait until after the budget and we’ve waited and waited. We’re raised the delay with officials but there has still been no meeting.
“The Council has done public consultations during this time, but these have been criticised over the way they have been rolled out and publicised.
“Falkirk Council says it wants to modernise but seems to have a problem actually getting out and talking to the communities that fund it.”
As the debate over the Property Review rumbled on, the Council has showcased major investments to Falkirk and Grangemouth – backed by Government cash. Members have also debated building a new headquarters in Falkirk said Mrs. Hunt: “The impression is that the Council seems to want to splash cash on the centre of the district, but to inflict cutbacks on outlying communities, like Bo’ness. We’re a growing community and we deserve decent well-funded facilities.
“When we asked, quite reasonably, to talk to people we’ve been left waiting.
“Our Falkirk Council members can’t even raise these issues at the Council’s new Emergency Executive as there are no places for them.
“We hope members and officers will listen to our concerns and agree to meet. Although the pandemic continues, we have been using new technology to have virtual meetings. There’s no excuse for the Council to avoid us.”
Read more: The Council’s strategic property review:
THE COMMUNITY COUNCIL ENDORSED THE FOLLOWING MOTION AT ITS MEETING ON AUGUST 12. THE FULL TEXT IS PUBLISHED BELOW:
Bo’ness Community Council notes with concern the current composition of Falkirk Council’s Emergency Executive. This body is running until the end of September and has wide-ranging powers.
Falkirk Council agreed that: “In the temporary absence of meetings of the Council and the Executives this committee will take ALL decisions for the Council (other than in regulatory matters) where the decisions are necessary to allow the Council to respond to the emergency situation, to plan for recovery or are otherwise time critical. This would include the powers currently reserved to Council, including powers relating to finance, but with the exception of any power to change the decision-making structure.”
The current Emergency Executive accommodates no councillors representing the Bo’ness, Grangemouth or Bonnybridge wards – while other areas have multiple representation.
The Community Council asks Falkirk Council to reconsider membership to allow for representation from across the Falkirk Council area.
Currently, Falkirk Council’s emergency executive has the following 12 members:
· Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn (Falkirk North)
· Councillor David Alexander (Falkirk North)
· Councillor Robert Bissett (Falkirk North)
· Councillor Pat Reid (Falkirk South)
· Councillor Adanna McCue (Lower Braes)
· Councillor Alan Nimmo (Lower Braes)
· Councillor Malcolm Nicol (Lower Braes)
· Councillor James Kerr (Upper Braes)
· Councillor Fiona Collie (Denny/Banknock)
· Councillor Nigel Harris (Denny/Banknock)
· Councillor Paul Garner (Denny/Bankcock)
· Councillor Joan Coombes (Carse/Kinnaird)
The Community Council further asks Falkirk Council to consider membership of its Council-owned Falkirk Community Trust. The current board is heavily concentrated on people/representatives from the central Falkirk area. Currently there are no community representatives from Bo’ness on the Trust board – despite the Trust running several facilities in the town.
The Community Council further asks the Council to properly engage with the Bo’ness community about its Strategic Property Review. Last year a number of Trust/Council properties in Bo’ness were highlighted for potential community transfer (with a risk of closure).
The Community Council asked for the chief executives of both the Council and Trust to meet with members locally. Despite a request being made in October this meeting has still not taken place. This lengthy delay is of concern.
In closing, we feel that the Council needs to adequately show that it is working with local communities and listening to them. We do not feel this is currently happening.