The leader of Perth and Kinross Council has launched a defence of the controversial £10 million revamp of its headquarters.
Councillor Ian Miller said the newly refurbished building, dubbed “a palace for politicians” by an opposition councillor, is primarily a state-of-the-art workplace for around 500 employees but will also assist Perth’s City of Culture bid.
The SNP politician was reacting to recent criticism from some George Street traders, one of whom claimed workmen had lengthened the wrong pavement at the top of Perth’s High Street beside the new HQ.
Mr Miller said: “As with any major change there will always be detractors and there are a minority who seem to make a career out of being negative about any improvements that take place in the city.
“Those of us who see the need to make improvements in Perth also see the need to move things forward and make our city a modern, smart and interesting place for people to live and visit.
“Our vision is to create a thriving, attractive and prosperous economy for the benefit of the whole community, not just the few.”
Mr Miller said the “completed renewal” of the building will bring up to 500 people back into the city centre.
“This will have a marked impact for retailers in the area,” he added.
“By carrying out this work, the council will make substantial savings in the longer term as we reduce the number of properties we occupy in the city.
“This is the first of a series of planned events that will enliven Perth over the next few years.
“The next major steps will be the opening of the new Perth Theatre followed by the refurbishment of Perth Museum and Art Gallery and the creation of exhibition space in Perth City Hall.
“Many other worthwhile projects are also simultaneously under way such as the creation of a new art-space at the former St John’s school, pontoons for river taxis on the Tay and the Thimble Row development.
“All of this is being tackled in a planned approach to the future that will ensure that Perth is able to compete with its competitors in the future.
“The Perth City Plan, drawn up by the private sector led city development board, is now almost 70% funded through council, Scottish Government and private sector investment.
“Further ideas are being progressed through our joint cities deal bid with our partners in Dundee City, Angus and North East Fife.
“From all of this you can see that the council HQ should not be seen as an isolated project, rather as the first of many as we prepare our bid for City of Culture in 2021.
“To be successful in that bid it will be essential for the whole community to pull together and create a united front.
“I would therefore ask everyone to look at the bigger picture of what is happening in Perth and refrain from knee-jerk reactions which could detract from the impression that potential external investors and visitors have of our great city.
“We all want the very best for Perth. Let’s work together for all of our futures.”
Councillor Alexander Stewart had previously slammed the decision to move the council chambers at the revamped building from its top floor to ground-floor level.