RELOCATING district offices to County Hall would see queues of confused people searching for the library, wanting to speak to the police and trying to solve housing benefit problems, it is claimed this week.
A report to Taunton Deane Council (TDBC) recommends selling off Deane House and moving across Taunton to share Somerset County Council’s offices from 2017.
But the LibDem opposition criticise the proposals, which could also mean over 100 staff being transferred to Williton.
The Deane’s corporate scrutiny committee last week rejected the proposals, aimed at saving money – a final decision will be made at the end of next month.
Afterwards, LibDem leader Cllr Simon Coles and his deputy Cllr Jefferson Horsley issued a joint statement.
It said: “We are at a loss to explain to council taxpayers how we can dispose of Deane House and the land owned by TDBC simply to pay the rent for the next five years and be left with nothing at the end.
“In addition, is it right for TDBC to consider transferring 35% of its staff to Williton - well over 100 personnel - and pay West Somerset Council (WSC) a dowry of possibly £90,000 per annum?
“It seems to be a further exodus of jobs from Taunton.
“When will TDBC begin to look at developing its own income streams from its own assets rather than leaking taxpayers’ money on ongoing expenditure with no prospect of growing its own balance sheet and promoting economic growth and regeneration for Taunton?”
They argue that County Hall, which is expected to become a public sector hub – with Social Services, the Probation Service, the police and Taunton Library among prospective occupants – would become chaotic, with confused members of the public unsure where to go.
A Deane spokeswoman said there were no “specific proposals” to move staff from Taunton to Williton – the suggestion was included in a confidential report about the future use of the HQ of WSC, which runs joint management and services with TDBC.
She added: “The non-confidential section of the report makes it clear that there is the potential for increased use of West Somerset House in the future.
“This would be subject, among other things, to member approval by WSC and to a payment from TDBC to ensure there is no cross subsidy between the two authorities.”