SNP Councillor Anne McNair is accusing East Dunbartonshire Council of trying to push through design proposals for the new cash-starved Bishopbriggs Hub without proper public consultation.
The council has organised a one-day “information session” at the town’s War Memorial Hall on Thursday, July 28 – when many people are away during the school summer holidays, says the Bishopbriggs North councillor.
This comes after a budget meeting a few months ago when Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem councillors voted to change the council’s capital investment programme, slashing the budget for the new community hub from £5.6 million down to £2.1 million.
The hub will now be within the existing library, rather than in a revamped building as was previously planned.
Councillor McNair said: “Our community needs to be aware the budget for the Bishopbriggs Hub has been cut from £5 million to £2 million.
“Plans for it fall well short of what was originally intended.”
She added: “Is East Dunbartonshire Council genuinely wanting to hear the views of local residents about the design proposals for the new Bishopbriggs Hub?
“If so, the obvious question is why is the public consultation event being held on July 28 at the height of the summer holidays?
“July is clearly the time when schools are on holiday. Many people will be away and attendance at any public meeting is likely to be very low.
“If the council is serious about public consultation and feedback, this is the worst time possible for holding this type of event.”
She added: “As plans for the Hub fall short, it is all the more important that the council engages fully with local people and that they should be given every possible opportunity to comment on the latest downgraded proposals.
“The original plans have been scrapped and all that is now being proposed for Bishopbriggs is a ‘remodelling and refurbishment’ within the existing library building.
“The Bishopbriggs Hub will be substantially smaller than the William Patrick Hub in Kirkintilloch, and will compare poorly with facilities elsewhere such as the council’s new purpose-built hub in Lennoxtown.
“If the council is seriously prepared to listen to local opinion, the consultation meetings need to be accessible to as many people as possible, not the fewest.”
East Dunbartonshire Council recently opened a brand new council hub in Lennoxtown at a cost of £5.25 million.
Hubs are also planned for Bearsden and Milngavie, with a combined budget of £7million.
The Herald are waiting for a response from East Dunbartonshire Council to Councillor McNair’s accusation.
In an earlier press release, a spokesman for EDC said that the “drop-in information session” between 4pm and 8pm, would give residents the opportunity to find out more about what is planned.
He added: “The Council has approved the development of a Community Hub based on a reconfiguration of the Bishopbriggs Library site on Kirkintilloch Road in a scheme similar to the Kirkintilloch Hub.
“The £2m Hub development will include enhancing the current library facilities through a full refurbishment and upgrade of the current accommodation.
“The Community Hub, which will bring together Council, library, leisure and cultural services in a single building, will also contain a multi-purpose room for children’s activities and reading groups, a computer learning suite, private rooms for confidential business and an enhanced heritage space which will incorporate the Thomas Muir Museum.
“The on-site customer services team will make it easier for residents to access and get information about a variety of different Council services and make payments for them in just one visit.”
He said the new Hub will be open to customers from 10am to 8pm Monday to Thursday and 10am to 5pm on Friday and will provide a range of Council services,
including: Payment kiosks - accepting cash, cheque and card payments for all, Council services; Answering enquiries about Council Tax; benefits; housing and more.
Accepting and validating application forms, including taxis, civic licences, education and more. Blue badge applications (including taking photos). Registration of births and deaths.
He added that the town will also benefit from upgraded hall facilities as Bishopbriggs Memorial Hall undergoes a £1.1m internal refurbishment.
Councillor Billy Hendry, Depute Leader of East Dunbartonshire Council, said: “We have introduced this session to keep people up-dated as to how the proposals are progressing and this is an excellent opportunity for residents to find out more about what is planned for these facilities and provide us with feedback.
“We are keen to engage with as many people and community groups as possible while we work towards making these new facilities a reality.
“The Council and our partners in East Dunbartonshire Leisure and Culture Trust look forward to speaking to people of all ages at the event on 28 July.
“The development of these new facilities will see major investment by the Council within Bishopbriggs and I would encourage people to come along to help inform the development process.”
The sessions will be supported by key members of the project team from East Dunbartonshire Council and the Leisure and Culture Trust and will include short design presentations at 4.30pm and 7pm.
Floor plans and images of the proposed developments will also be available to view. East Dunbartonshire Council officers and representatives from the project design team will be available to address any comments and questions you may have.
The information session at Bishopbriggs War Memorial Hall on Bamuildy Road,
Bishopbriggs will be open to the public from 4pm-8pm and everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.