Council secures grant to allow hub investigation

ANGUS Council’s strategic policy committee was set to discuss funding plans to allow an investigation into the potential development of a community health, social care and emergency service hub for Brechin when they met on February 5, as the Brechin Advertiser went to press.

The report, composed by chief executive Richard Stiff, recommended that the committee note that a joint application to the East Central Scotland hub, with a number of community planning partners, for funds to enable investigation of the potential development of a Community Health, Social Care and Emergency Service Hub for Brechin has been successful, with £191,577 awarded.

A similar idea was mooted for Brechin back in 2010, when the then Provost, Ruth Leslie Melville suggested a ‘hub’ for the town, which would include police, pharmacy and various council services.

The initial idea was proposed at a Brechin in Partnership meeting with over 40 people from various groups and organisations in attendance. However further plans never materialised.

The report outlined the background to the proposal, citing the availability of accommodation as a motivating factor behind exploring a community hub option.

The timing of the proposal also fits with the council’s timetable of asset management reviews.

Following an initial review of partnership properties, it has become clear that several services are operating from buildings that are not ideally fit for purpose.

Since this discovery, discussions have since commenced on potential synergies in amalgamating community health, social care and emergency services.

Angus Council was able to bid for funding from the hub procurement programme at short notice after a delay on one of the front runner projects elsewhere within Scotland.

The Hub Procurement Programme was set up by the Scottish Government in 2006.

One of its fundamental aims is being able to generate efficiencies and savings by means of greater public sector collaboration.

The Capital Enabling Funding is designed to support front runner projects with either a capital injection or funding to support project development by way of feasibility funding, land acquisition or early design work.

Discussions with the East Central Scotland hub indicated that the Brechin proposal had a high chance of scoring well in the bidding process, if an application was submitted. Advice was sought from senior officers in each of the partner organisations, and a bid for enabling funds was submitted.

The report has outlined the next steps that need to be taken in to consideration.

One of the first steps needing to be considered is potential accommodation sites. An assessment will now be prepared which will inform of potential site options, with consideration also being given to the requirements of a future integrated health and social care facility. Thereafter, a contract for a feasibility study will be let.

According to the report, the funding that has been granted “will be used to assess the opportunities and feasibility of alternative property options. Any firm proposals will be the subject of further consultation and committee report(s).”

In his report, Richard Stiff outlined the possible risks involved. He said: “The enabling funds will allow further exploration of a plan which will include a feasibility element.

“This may therefore establish that the potential development is not feasible.

“There is therefore a risk that publicity surrounding the bid will raise expectations among the public that may not be realised.”