A South Gloucestershire council building which has recently received a multi-million pound makeover could lie half-empty when it re-opens, and senior Labour councillor Terry Walker is challenging the ruling Tories over the reduced number of staff now scheduled to work at Kingswood Civic Centre.
The council has embarked on a major accommodation strategy with a view to consolidating its headquarters in three main building and vacating expensive leased office space. As part of the strategy, staff moved out of Kingswood Civic Centre in the Spring of 2010 to enable the multi-million pound upgrade. This upgrade will provide a smarter One Stop Shop, which also houses a local police presence, a new council chamber and committee rooms, and modern office accommodation for the returning staff. However, a reduction in staff numbers since the project was planned, combined with recent decisions to divert a large number of staff the council had planned to house there to other offices, means that the new building could be half empty.
The Community Care and Housing department was due to move into Kingswood, but council managers have now decided that most of the department’s staff should go to the council offices at Badminton Road in Nibley instead. In addition, several finance staff who had expected to return to Kingswood will also be sent to work at Nibley.
Councillor Walker (Labour, Kings Chase) says:
“I am concerned on two points. First, Kingswood will no longer be a major headquarters and is clearly not important to the current Tory Administration. We are being downgraded as our council building will not house any major service department or any chief officers. The building, which has cost many millions of public money to refurbish, is in grave danger of being half empty.”
“Second, I am not happy that local staff who expected to return have been let down. This is bad news not just for them but also for the local economy and traffic on South Gloucestershire roads as more staff will be commuting. I will be challenging the Tories to demonstrate that they have got a strategy in place to secure the viability of the building.”
Source: Labour Councillors on South Gloucestershire Council