Highland Council wants to move out of the iconic town hall which has been home to the local government since 1882 to save £370,000 a year.
Built in 1882, the building hosted Inverness area committee meetings, but despite a £7.4m refurbishment, these gatherings were moved to the council’s headquarters.
It currently houses 100 members of staff, who will relocate to the Glenurquhart Road HQ, but it is unclear whether the up to 300 civic functions it hosts a year.
It would be a significant financial blow to the Inverness Common Good Fund, which would not just lose income but incur costs.
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The local authority’s redesign board – set up to streamline, reform and rationalize areas of the council’s business – will discuss the issue next week.
According to the plan submitted to the redesign board, from April 1 next year savings will be achieved by ceasing payment to the Inverness Common Good Fund.
It includes the use of the townhouse for office space and parking, along with savings on utility and maintenance costs for the site.
The means that the Common Good Fund would lose or assume the burden of:
- The annual payment of £200,000 for use of the site
- The annual payment of £33,500 for use of the car park
- All utility charges and non-domestic rates
- Responsibility for costs for maintenance, cleaning and facility administration
According to the local authority, the savings will contribute to an overall target of £1 million in revenue savings as part of the asset management plan.
This plan seeks to divest as many properties as possible to reduce operating costs and carbon footprint to become a carbon neutral organization by 2040.
If the board agrees, the proposal would have to be accepted at the December meeting of the full council, but it is unlikely to go smoothly.
There was an uproar from some councilors when the local area committee meetings moved out of City Hall.
The chairman of the redesign board, Councilor Bill Lobban, said: “Prudent financial decisions play a vital role in ensuring we meet the ambitious revenue savings targets by reducing our office footprint across several council buildings.
“The Redesign Board considered this review of our significant assets and has worked together to produce this important piece of work which will greatly reduce our overhead costs, reduce our energy use and contribute to climate change targets, whilst making better use of this iconic civic building. “
Chair of Housing and Estates Committee and Provost of Inverness, Cllr Glynis Sinclair said: “Inverness Town House has recently undergone a £7.4m refurbishment which has returned it to its former glory.
“The investment helped secure Byhuset’s legacy for future generations. This beautifully restored building provides new opportunities for the Common Good Fund to maximize its cultural significance in the heart of the city of Inverness in the form of tours, weddings and other events which mean the public and tourists can enjoy this remarkable historic building.”