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Rent-free deal could be on table for police to continue use of Inverness Town House

By Val Sweeney

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Police Scotland has two offices at Inverness Town House.
Police Scotland has two offices at Inverness Town House.

Police Scotland could retain a presence in Inverness Town House rent free under a deal which would see the police force contribute towards running costs.

The police force currently occupies two adjoining offices in the building under a historic agreement whereby Highland Council staff used office space at the city police station in Burnett Road in return and no rent was payable.

But the council is no longer a tenant at the newly-refurbished Town House since council staff moved out in March to the local authority's headquarters in Glenurquhart Road in a £370,000 cost-cutting measure.

The council has now approached Police Scotland to formalise an agreement, according to a report to be presented to the Inverness Area Committee next Monday.

Council officers state Police Scotland is willing to make a contribution to running costs only which on a pro-rata basis amounts to £4500 per annum.

The report continues that the rental value is estimated at £2400 and in order to retain the police presence, it is considered this rent is waived.

It comes as there has been little interest from would-be tenants in taking up office space in the historic building which has undergone a £7.4 million refurbishment.

The report says the arrangement with the police would enable them to continue using the Town House and reduce call-out times to incidents.

"The rooms would be difficult to lease and the contribution to running costs will assist bringing in some revenue, to assist with Town House utilities and cleaning costs," it states.

"This arrangement has been in place since 2015 and has successfully addressed the challenges of policing a vibrant city centre, significantly reducing call out times to incidents and so increasing confidence in use of the city centre.

"Supporting this proposal will allow this arrangement to continue whilst reducing the cost burden to the Inverness Common Good Fund."

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