Council flit from Lanark a false economy?

Council's Lanark headquarters
Council's Lanark headquarters

The Green Party in Clydesdale has now joined in the row over the steady removal of South Lanarkshire Council departments from its Clydesdale area headquarters in Lanark to its Hamilton base.

As reported in the Gazette, SLC has, in recent times, removed its Registry, first-contact social work and planning departments from the South Vennel local HQ, affectionately known locally as Fawlty Towers.

This has led to fears for the very future of the Lanark complex of offices.

At the time of the withdrawl of social work services, the Biggar-based leading Green party figure Dr Janet Moxley attacked the decision. Now the departure of the planning department too has led her to renew her critcisms.

She said: “We are trying to find out the cost of these moves which involve creating new facilities in Hamilton and, in the case of social services, setting up a new call centre.

“SLC do seem to be in the process of pulling out of Lanark completely and, in the latest move, planners need to have an understanding of their local area which can’t be acquired just from GIS mapping systems and Google Earth.”

She criticised the new technology the council hopes will replace a local, personal service, saying: “SLC’s planning search facility isn’t very easy to find on their website even when you have web access - and let’s remember that much of Clydesdale has no broadband. Even when you find it, the search facility is poor and it can be bit of a fight to get the related documents to download.”

SLC head of planning Pauline Elliott said they had had no other complaints about the council website, adding: “We are happy to help if individuals have trouble finding the information they are looking for and there is an email link on the homepage and search page that can be used to ask for assistance.

‘‘There are no direct savings attributable to the move and, while the decision to make this move may result in some savings, it is primarily designed to enable a sharing of expertise, duties and capacity across teams while improving customer service.”