Work to start on Castle Douglas community payback centre

A new base for offenders ordered to carry out community service should be up and running in Castle Douglas by the spring.

Design work on the community workshop, which is to be located within council owned property, is almost complete and councillors will be told today workmen should be on site in January.

It’s the latest step in the development of a region wide community workshops strategy launched with a £2.5 million budget almost five years ago.

The aim is to pinpoint bases from which offenders given community payback orders by the courts could be organised.

Dumfries and Stranraer were given priority and the social work services committee will be told both are now up and running.

Operational staff moved in at Dumfries two years ago and the Stranraer base opened its doors in June this year.

Just over £1 million remains in the pot and social work bosses aim to spend £600,000 developing the new facilities at Castle Douglas, Newton Stewart and Annan where the largest of the three units will be built.

Social work director John Alexander will tell members the size of each unit reflects the number of community payback orders in the area.

And that means the spotlight is off Upper Nithsdale which was earmarked for the a unit.

Mr Alexander says in a report: “The number of community payback orders with unpaid work requirements has decreased in that area and, at this point in time, it is not considered to be economically viable for the service to develop and sustain a workshop in that area.”

However, the director points out there may still be a need for a storage facility and garage to support outdoor work in the area in the next financial year and, consequently, the balance of £404,000 from the original allocation will have to be retained.