A councillor has questioned whether encouraging council staff to continue remote working could damage city centre trade.
Conservative Strathearn ward councillor Noah Khogali raised his concern at a meeting of Perth and Kinross Council on Wednesday, November 9.
Councillors were being asked to approve the climate action annual report and action plans for 2023/24.
One of the actions in the plan stated: “Raise awareness of alternative approaches to attending meetings across council employees; including tele/video conferencing and provide training on using ICT equipment to reduce transport emissions.”
Cllr Noah Khogali said: “That seems to suggest to me that PKC is going to be encouraging employees not to come into Perth with the aim of reducing vehicles in the town centre.
“I was wondering what work was being done to ensure that doesn’t even further detrimentally impact the businesses that are already struggling in Perth?
“There has been lots of discussion in here and outside of here about that being a challenge and I just hope we are not accidentally compounding that.”
Only a ‘marginal difference’
Executive director of communities Barbara Renton said: “There will always be that conflict between all of the priorities the council has.
“To deliver climate change we need to reduce carbon emissions – transport is one of those ones.
“What we are looking at is a different approach to how our staff work and how they access and how they deliver those services will be a big part of that.
“It’s very early to say how that will work and how that will impact businesses. I think it’s very very clear and we have to be very focussed on that the number of people that will come into our towns and cities will be a marginal difference.
“There is an awful lot more in different economic development we need to do rather than simply businesses being dependent on council staff.”
‘Not all our offices are in Perth’
Chief operating officer Karen Donaldson added: “Council staff have been working on a hybrid basis but many more staff continue to be working in their normal workplace across Perth and Kinross.”
She added: “Not all our offices are in Perth and over a working week we do see most staff spending at least part of their working period travelling to their normal workplace so that continues to bring employees into the towns and the city as well.”