Council offices face closure

Council offices in the Kincardine and Mearns area could be closed as part of an Aberdeenshire Council plan which hopes to save nearly £1million.

The proposed scheme would see the 98 Aberdeenshire council facilities being cut to 53 over a period of four years.

The Arduthie Business Centre, and offices at Cameron Street in Stonehaven, as well as the Badentoy Business Centre in Portlethen have been earmarked as some of the first to close if the scheme is approved.

Cameron Street in Stonehaven currently deals with the social work department whilst the business centres in Stonehaven and Portlethen both house a number of different Council departments including employment officers.

The proposal to close these three offices is being discussed by the Policy and Resource committee as the Leader goes to print.

As part of the proposal a £5.4million headquarters would be developed in Peterhead.

The report states that this “will enable services currently dispersed throughout the settlement, to be brought together and provide improved service delivery.”

Aberdeenshire Council currently has 98 offices and other facilities through out the region which cost £6million a year to run.

The proposed reduction to 53 over the next four years would reduce this cost by £920,000, but will have no impact on staff numbers.

Along with the cost of running so many offices, part of Aberdeenshire Council’s reasoning for the closures is the way people now use Council services.

The report states: “The way customers access Council services is changing, with less dependency on face to face contact and greater use of telephony through the customer contact centre and web based transactions.

“The proposed strategy reflects the changing nature of customer requirements.”

If the proposal, which is recommended for approval, is approved the offices will be shut down in a “phased manner to reduce impact on town centres and the commercial market.”

These plans come as part of Aberdeenshire Council’s Corporate Asset Management Plan 2010-2015 which highlighted “the need to ensure that the property portfolio is effectively utilised at all levels.”