SOCIAL work services for children and families are to move from Alexandria to Clydebank after a council vote.

The future of the site has been up in the air since 2014 when Labour put the Church Street offices into a “rationalisation” programme.

Last week the SNP voted to follow through with the move even as Labour tried to reverse their own idea. The two Tory councillors split and one voted for each plan.

Council bosses insisted the new base at Aurora House in Clydebank was just to put staff under one roof and there would still be local services in the Vale of Leven.

And they pointed out Church Street was not fit for purpose and staying there would require hiring five new social workers.

There are currently two under-12 teams, one on each side of West Dunbartonshire, while youth services and a children with disability team are based in Aurora House. A duty social work staffs both offices on rotation.

A total of 36 staff are based at Church Street and it’s expected they will move to Clydebank after January 2018.

Aurora House has had a number of improvements made, particularly soundproofing of meeting rooms to ensure more privacy for meetings with residents.

A consultation was carried out in the summer into the long-running plans, with trade unions backing keeping the Church Street service. Twenty-five people attended two public meetings on the proposals after 500 letters were sent out.

At last week’s meeting, Jackie Irvine, head of children’s health, care and criminal justice services, said: “My preference is I bring all my staff together. If you kept [Church Street] open, I would be significantly concerned about staff.”

Labour group leader Martin Rooney, who led the council when the 2014 plan was put forward, said the offices could stay open and the budget could accommodate hiring five new staff.

He said: “We have said from the beginning that this is a political decision and we can only make a political decision when you have all the facts in front of you.

“We have decided we will stick with the option of the office in Alexandria and it’s affordable. For a safe and consistent service, we want to make sure we are well balanced across the whole authority.”

Councillor Jim Bollan, who backed Labour, said: “This issue is really about saving money. We should be having services closer to people rather than centralising them. Sometimes people’s lives are in chaos and they need services close to them, not further away.

“If we close Church Street, that’s another service that will not be available locally.”

SNP council leader Jonathan McColl agreed it was partly about money because they had a duty to deliver best value for money.

He said: “I take great exception that we’re centralising a service - we are centralising the staff. The health and social care partnership have dedicated rooms that will only be for this use in the Vale of Leven Health Centre. People will be able to access services locally.

“We are providing absolutely suitable space. What we have here is a really good solution.”

Councillor Marie McNair pointed out that she was against the office rationalisation programme in 2014 and said Labour was “not bothered then”.

She added: “It’s the right decision to close the Alexandria office.”

There were 10 votes for the office to stay open and 12 for it to close.