Council bosses in South Lanarkshire have been left stunned by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s (FCDO) shock decision to quit East Kilbride.

Around 1,000 civil servants look set to be relocated to Glasgow. 

The Herald understands this comes despite the local authority working with David Cameron's officials on plans for a new office.

It’s also understood that the council only found out about the move after it appeared in React News, a trade magazine for the real estate sector, on 7 December.

The FCDO announced to staff later in the day, giving union representatives only an hour's notice. 

South Lanarkshire Council leader Joe Fagan said he was “astounded” by the decision.

He's called for a meeting with officials at the UK Government department.

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The FCDO currently operates from East Kilbride’s Abercrombie House, in a building originally built as part of an expansion of the Overseas Development Administration.

It then became the Department for International Development’s joint HQ before changing following its merger with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2020.

There are currently 1,000 staff based in East Kilbride, with the FCDO previously committing to redeploying a further 500 jobs by 2025.

The UK Government say that civil servants from HMRC, currently based in Queensway House in the town, will eventually move into Abercrombie House.

A source said the move would ultimately allow the FCDO to bring more staff to Scotland.

They made clear that this was "not a restructuring exercise and there are no planned redundancies."

Councillor Fagan said: “I am frankly astounded by the announcement on the FCDO – both the decision itself and the way it has been made.

“These staff have been working, and in many cases living, in East Kilbride for decades and are important contributors to our local community and economy.

“The FCDO announcement has been made out of the blue, suggesting not just a failure of communication but also a lack of coherence in their decision-making process. The reasons given for the decision are also weak, to say the least.

“We call for urgent further discussions on this situation.”

The Herald: South Lanarkshire Council HQ

The SNP MSP for East Kilbride, Collette Stevenson told The National: “After promising more jobs would come to East Kilbride, the Westminster government's decision to axe around 1,000 jobs based in East Kilbride is a hammer-blow to our town and local economy. 

"What will be especially horrifying to local residents is that this decision was taken by David Cameron, an unelected Tory lord with no democratic mandate. 

"As MSP for East Kilbride I am calling on all elected representatives to speak out against this decision, including Lisa Cameron MP, who must stand up for her constituents in the face of this appalling decision from her party."

A UK Government spokesperson said they would be happy to meet with the council.

They said: “The FCDO is growing its presence and number of staff in Scotland.

"To widen their future talent pool, FCDO is relocating to a modern building in Central Glasgow confirming the UK Government’s long-term commitment to Scotland.

“HMRC will be moving into Abercrombie House, which is a building that is already part of the UK Government estate, providing better value for money to the taxpayer and which will continue to boost the economy of East Kilbride. 

"HMRC is still at the early stages of plans for the building and hopes to confirm timelines in the spring.”

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According to React News, the FDCO has charged BNP Paribas Real Estate to scope out potential options for their new office.

The magazine suggests they will be looking for existing space and refurbishment opportunities over development sites.

The PCS Union said there was mixed response from staff to the news.

"PCS recognises that the move is welcomed by some members who prefer to work in Glasgow. However, there are many staff who are based in Kilbride and rural locations for whom this move presents considerable concerns.

"Whilst FCDO have made some positive soundings about the potential for excess fares, and given an assurance that there will not be compulsory redundancies as a result of the move, many staff are rightly worried about the impact on their ability to regularly commute to the new location."