Plans to relocate a number of council services to a new facility in Bonnyrigg without consultation has sparked anger among community leaders.
It was agreed in private at last week’s full council meeting to build a new depot on a site at Hopefield, Bonnyrigg.
The development will replace a number of facilities, namely the Stobhill, Fushiebridge and Bonnyrigg depots, the library HQ in Loanhead, and Buccleuch House in Dalkeith.
The relocation will also allow several industrial units, currently being used by the council for storage, to be emptied. They could then be leased to local businesses, thus generating income, along with the sale of the buildings being vacated.
Mayfield and Easthouses Community Council chairman Robert Hogg heard the news at last week’s Federation of Community Councils, of which he is also chairman.
He said: “What I want to know is where is the consultation? From what I know it’s a done deal. Midlothian prides itself on consultation but where’s the consultation here? This will be a shock to the people of Gorebridge, Mayfield, Newtongrange and the surrounding area.
“There has been nothing whatsoever through the community council or through the press. Why would they do these things? I thought they had to consult.
“But they should have still talked to the communities about this. You wouldn’t build a new school without consultation. So why not here?
“It doesn’t bother me where this is, but where is the consultation? A lot of people will be upset about the jobs aspect as well. The whole thing has not been handled well at all.”
Gorebridge Community Council leader Trevor Taylor has concerns about staff getting to the new facility, and the future of Stobhill. He said: “I have said a number of times that there is not a direct bus service from one side of the county to the other for workers at the sites. It’s ridiculous.
“Do they think everybody here only wants housebuilders to come to Gorebridge?
“As I can guarantee that houses will go to that site.”
Councillor Jim Muirhead (Lab) said: “What we will have is more houses, when we don’t have the services to cope as it is. And Newtongrange and Gorebridge would be joined up. I can understand the economics of it but the communities here will be effected.”
Councillor Derek Rosie (SNP), the cabinet member for property and facilities, said: “We are currently running a major consultation with the public about future spending challenges, including how we use our buildings, called Shaping Our Future.
“The decision regarding Hopefield was made in private only because there was some sensitive financial information about land values and construction costs that we are not in a position to share. While the strategic decision to move has been made, the next stage in the process would be to consult with all stakeholders involved.
“We will be consulting with staff and unions about this exciting move, which provides good access to the A7 and City Bypass.
“As the council has a no compulsory redundancy policy, there’s no suggestion any staff will lose their jobs. The new depot is a couple of years or so in the future, but we are confident the facility, which can also be extended, will be a huge improvement on what we have at the moment and will boost staff morale.”