Aberdeenshire Council co-leader, Cllr Richard Thomson has warmly welcomed progress on plans for a new Aberdeenshire Council HQ in Inverurie, which could also lead to increased council employment and retail space in Ellon.
Councillors last week approved by 50 votes to four a business case which could see the local authority moving out of its vastly under-occupied HQ at Woodhill House in Aberdeen, to build a smaller, more cost-effective civic hub on the site of Inverurie Locos' Harlaw Park ground.
The plans, which include provision for a 1,700 square meter office space on the site of the former Ellon Academy, would also see the closure of Gordon House in Inverurie, which like Woodhill House is in near-imminent need of multi-million pound renovations.
The plans, which are forecast to save Aberdeenshire taxpayers nearly half a million pounds each year in reduced running costs, would see fewer council staff working in a 'HQ' building, with more able to work at alternative locations around Aberdeenshire. The proposals could, if progressed, see the council moving out of many of its existing premises in Ellon, freeing those buildings up for alternative uses.
Speaking after the vote, Cllr Thomson said: “It's been clear for some time that our existing HQ building in Aberdeen was far too big, and that there were some pretty hefty repair bills coming down the line for both Woodhill and Gordon House if we didn't act quickly.
"For that reason, having a thorough look at Aberdeenshire Council's office space needs was one of my key priorities as Council Co-Leader upon taking office 2 years ago.
“Staying put and carrying the costs of those increased running costs and repairs would have meant frontline services taking a direct financial hit.
"Instead, our plans will see Aberdeenshire council working out of a much smaller and more efficient set of offices, meaning we have modern, cost-effective premises which don't drain money for providing public services.
“Gaining the approval of councillors for this was an important step on the road to delivering a more efficient and cost-effective council, which spreads the economic benefits of all it does right around Aberdeenshire's communities.”