A CONTROVERSIAL report which called for the demolition of East Renfrewshire Council’s headquarters was buried for a year, the Barrhead News can reveal.

The document, drawn up by consultancy firm Turner and Townsend in August 2017, stated the local authority could save up to £260,000 a year by getting rid of the current building in Eastwood Park.

And it called for an Eastwood Park masterplan to be drawn up, taking into account the potential for extending St Ninian’s High School and placing a new leisure centre on the site.

Despite that, councillors and members of the public were never made aware of the report during the consultation into plans for a new Eastwood Leisure Centre.

When asked whether the document was ever made public, the council’s chief executive, Lorraine McMillan, said: “I don’t believe the accommodation report was in the public domain.

“When the consultants did look at Eastwood Park as an option they specifically took into account, when identifying whether it would be possible to build a full-scale leisure centre there, the possibility of the demolition of the council HQ.

“At that point they did say that, even with that, they felt it wouldn’t be possible.”

Turner and Townsend were commissioned last year to prepare a property management and accommodation strategy for the local authority’s 42 corporate buildings.

They laid out options for the council’s office accommodation needs from 2020, including the possibility of selling Eastwood Park for housing.

The company also said that, if the council chooses to sell Eastwood Park for housing, then it should seek to “maximise the opportunity” to make around £2.9million.

Options for the council chambers were also discussed, with offices on Barrhead’s Main Street, Eastwood House, Capelrig House and the McGuire Building, in Barrhead, all possibilities.

Opposition councillors claim council chiefs hid the report in a bid to push Shawwood, in Newton Mearns, as the preferred site for the new Eastwood Leisure Centre.

Independent member David Macdonald has called for an investigation into why the report was kept private.

Councillor Macdonald said: “I am very concerned about the fact that the report was hidden from the public domain during an active consultation process, confirmed by the director of environment Andrew Cahill and chief executive Lorraine McMillan at the recent meeting of the council.

“Such a blatant disregard for transparency is a completely disrespectful disregard for the people of East Renfrewshire.

“Had they been privy to this report far in advance of the public consultation, the result of the consultation would most likely have been much different.”

Conservative councillor Gordon Wallace added: “It’s been absolutely clear that Shawwood was the number one spot for putting the leisure centre down.”