At the Leadership Forum on Monday, April 29th, Douglas Duff, Head of Planning & Economic Development, talked about the role Development Services will play in transforming the Council:

Central to our journey to become a Council of the Future is that we operate from fewer buildings. Our Strategic Property Review is a vitally important trigger for change and an important tool for regeneration.

We have to rationalise our property portfolio, invest in the buildings we want to retain for ourselves and our communities and dispose of the remainder. The Strategic Property Review will trigger change, not just for us but for our communities and partners. 

The delivery of our new Council Headquarters and Arts Centre will reinforce the transformation taking place and will see us work closely with partners and the wider community to revitalise and repurpose Falkirk town centre as a community hub.

It is important that our use of technology is tailored to help us meet the wide variety of service demands we face over the coming years. Artificial intelligence will help create efficiencies within our Roads Maintenance Division and revolutionise how we operate an essential winter service. 

New sensor technology creates opportunities for us to monitor environmental conditions in real time, enabling better control and management of assets with provision for a rapid response should events occur. This is vitally important given the complex environment we manage. 

Technology will also help transform our services for people, including bereaved families, modernising our business processes, enhancing service options and offering novel approaches to capture memories for those who have lost loved ones. 

Change is a constant and we must all think differently to seek new ways to deliver services. A recent employee suggestion scheme pilot highlighted a number of ideas coming from staff that could generate income for services. Suggestions have been implemented to improve the working environment and approach to service delivery. Frontline staff are the experts who know what is needed at the coalface. This understanding is essential to the changes we need to effect.

We also need to engage our communities more, promoting opportunities for them to lead in the delivery of services that we have historically provided such as helping to maintain flower beds, with school crossing patrols or in gritting non-priority areas when necessary. These are all measures which can enhance the capacity and resilience of our communities and strengthen our sense of place.

By empowering and enabling our workforce and communities we can make real change happen.