Taunton Deane Council could relocate to County Hall

Somerset County Gazette: County Hall A Block. County Hall A Block.

IF you’re confused about where to pay your council tax or unsure how to get hold of Social Services, things could become simpler if two councils agree to move in together.

Taunton Deane Council – which collects council tax, determines planning applications and takes away household rubbish – could sell its Deane House offices and rent space at County Hall, home to Somerset County Council, which is in charge of education, Social Services and highways.

A report to the Deane’s corporate scrutiny committee today (Thursday) recommends the move as the authority’s current HQ is ageing and needs millions spent on maintenance and repairs.

Another option is a new building at Firepool, although the report says renting in A or B Block at County Hall is “the best option for customers and the optimum value for money”.

Other public sector organisations, including the Charity Commission and the police, are considering being based at County Hall, where space has been freed up by efficiencies.

If a public sector hub is established there, people would be able to access several services at a single location.

Sharing arrangements between public organisations in other parts of the county have produced savings.

The report says: “Sharing has brought the additional significant benefit of closer working between organisations and improved access for customers by introducing one-stop shop approaches.”

Property consultants commissioned by the district council favour the County Hall option, with Firepool second and staying put last.

The county would fit out the offices, while Deane House could be sold for development.

A final decision will be made at the end of next month.

Cllr Simon Coles, LibDem opposition leader on Taunton Deane Council, is worried the move is being rushed through.

He said: “I can’t see how it is sensible, practical or good value for the taxpayers of Taunton Deane.

“It seems like a marriage in all but name and a movement towards some kind of unitary authority.”

A county spokesman said the authority welcomes the recommendation to Deane councillors.

He added: “The creation of a multi-agency public service hub at County Hall is subject to county council councillors agreeing the development proposals. They will be considering this over the next few months.

“Although a formal decision is yet to be made, the co-location would benefit local residents by giving them a single point of access for both councils and other public sector services.

“This will no doubt bring considerable benefits for a number of public services, our customers and the public purse for many years to come.”

Comments (6)

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9:52am Thu 19 Jun 14

topcataj says...

Pipe down Cllr Coles, I can't see how it isn't sensible, practical and good value for tax payers, especially if the alternative is a new build project in Firepool!

Across the county different public sector agencies are already trying to work more closely, look at the changes to Mendip District Council offices and the link between Taunton Deane and West Somerset!
Pipe down Cllr Coles, I can't see how it isn't sensible, practical and good value for tax payers, especially if the alternative is a new build project in Firepool! Across the county different public sector agencies are already trying to work more closely, look at the changes to Mendip District Council offices and the link between Taunton Deane and West Somerset! topcataj
  • Score: 5

1:18pm Thu 19 Jun 14

RightToAnOpinion says...

What's the betting they opt for a nice new building on the Firepool site, what's best for taxpayers may not be what the councillors require.
What's the betting they opt for a nice new building on the Firepool site, what's best for taxpayers may not be what the councillors require. RightToAnOpinion
  • Score: 4

5:13pm Thu 19 Jun 14

Concerned Taunton says...

If Deane House goes then plans include relocating 130 jobs to the West Somerset Council offices in Williton.

Money wasted on travel, as well as further jobs not benefitting Taunton's economy.

Well done John Williams and Penny James for ruining our town further with another of your poorly thought through schemes.
If Deane House goes then plans include relocating 130 jobs to the West Somerset Council offices in Williton. Money wasted on travel, as well as further jobs not benefitting Taunton's economy. Well done John Williams and Penny James for ruining our town further with another of your poorly thought through schemes. Concerned Taunton
  • Score: 7

8:09am Fri 20 Jun 14

Tell_it_as_it_is says...

This will never happen no matter what they say.

Parochial interests around identity and so called "branding" will intervene.

Not to mention those protecting the status quo (like Councillor Coles - who is a Councillor at Taunton Deane and Somerset County Council, so collects two lots of allowances and expenses & has much to lose).

West Somerset Council were financially un-viable (going bust to you & I) so they built a nice shiny new HQ and could only fill less than half of it with the remaining staff!

Therefore, expect Taunton Deane to opt for a shiny new HQ on the banks of the River Tone on the bomb site known as Firepool.
This will never happen no matter what they say. Parochial interests around identity and so called "branding" will intervene. Not to mention those protecting the status quo (like Councillor Coles - who is a Councillor at Taunton Deane and Somerset County Council, so collects two lots of allowances and expenses & has much to lose). West Somerset Council were financially un-viable (going bust to you & I) so they built a nice shiny new HQ and could only fill less than half of it with the remaining staff! Therefore, expect Taunton Deane to opt for a shiny new HQ on the banks of the River Tone on the bomb site known as Firepool. Tell_it_as_it_is
  • Score: 5

10:56pm Fri 20 Jun 14

Country_Lady says...

If the Liberal Democrats at Taunton Deane think that spending more on building an office rather than a cheaper (and logical) option of sharing a building with the County Council is a vote winner they are mistaken - they have lost my vote for one!
If the Liberal Democrats at Taunton Deane think that spending more on building an office rather than a cheaper (and logical) option of sharing a building with the County Council is a vote winner they are mistaken - they have lost my vote for one! Country_Lady
  • Score: 3

7:50am Tue 24 Jun 14

benstock says...

Always find it sickening how a refurbishment that in the private sector would be in the 10's possibly 100's of thousands, gets inflated through crap management and bogus consultations to millions.
Always find it sickening how a refurbishment that in the private sector would be in the 10's possibly 100's of thousands, gets inflated through crap management and bogus consultations to millions. benstock
  • Score: 3

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