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Scottish Conservatives have raised concerns over the lack of Council staff working in Perth city centre, with new data revealing that only one in five staff currently based at Pullar House are actually working in the building.
Figures supplied to the Scottish Conservatives through a Freedom of Information request reveal that the highest average weekly number of Council staff working at Pullar House from April 4, 2022, to March 6 this year was only 226.
Murdo Fraser MSP and Councillor John Duff both feel the lack of Perth and Kinross Council office staff in Perth city centre has played a major factor in a notable fall in footfall in the city centre.
Commenting, Mr Fraser said: “These figures for staff numbers working at Pullar House in Perth are extremely disappointing and concerning as they show that only 1 in 5 Council staff are actually working there. I believe this has been a major factor in lack of footfall in Perth city centre.
“We have lost a number of retailers from Perth in recent times, and many constituents and friends have told me they are concerned about the appearance of the main shopping streets, with a proliferation of empty units and ‘To Let’ signs.
Mr Fraser continued: “In the Council’s reply to my letter to them last year, they said they had started to see a further increase in staff working at Pullar House and 2 High Street. While the average weekly attendance at 2 High Street is still around 25% occupancy levels, the numbers at Pullar House are very low indeed. The highest average weekly total there is 226, which is well below the total staff number of 1,068.
“I understand that there will be some staff based at Pullar House whose roles – such as in the care sector – mean that they are out on the road constantly. However, many others who could be in the office appear to be still working from home. This was understandable during the Covid pandemic but I find it disappointing and concerning that it still seems to be the case.
“I realise that for some Council staff, particularly ones with young families, working from home may suit them, but I would urge Perth and Kinross Council to encourage their staff to go back and work from their offices in Perth city centre where possible. Even a model of hybrid working with several days a week spent in the office would benefit the city centre economy.”
And Councillor Duff, who is the leader of the Scottish Conservative group in Perth and Kinross, added: “The Council is the largest employer in Perth city centre and the continued absence of our staff from our two main offices has undoubtedly had an impact on footfall in the High Street. I realise that working practices since Covid are changing and that home working or hybrid (part-home/part-office) working are more common these days.
However, the state of our city centre and our city economy must also be a key priority for the Council and we need to quickly find an arrangement which supports both our workforce and our economy.”
Labour Cllr Brian Leishman responded with the Tweet below.