LibDems slam proposals to relocate Taunton Deane staff to County Hall and Williton

LibDems slam proposals to relocate Taunton Deane staff to County Hall and Williton

County Hall

Deane House

First published in News

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.”

Comments (5)

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12:46am Thu 26 Jun 14

sfj642 says...

Two points immediately come to mind
1. Officers have a right to expenses on relocation - what would be the total cost of relocating 100 Officers the 20 or so miles to Williton? Please tell me this is a non-starter.
2. The West Somerset Council House should be sold off and the money used to replace the Swimming Pool that the profligate Council robbed from West Somerset people.
Jim Butterworth
Two points immediately come to mind 1. Officers have a right to expenses on relocation - what would be the total cost of relocating 100 Officers the 20 or so miles to Williton? Please tell me this is a non-starter. 2. The West Somerset Council House should be sold off and the money used to replace the Swimming Pool that the profligate Council robbed from West Somerset people. Jim Butterworth sfj642
  • Score: 3

8:22am Thu 26 Jun 14

RightToAnOpinion says...

Lib-Dems off again, they seem to make a habit of being the fly in the ointment.
Lib-Dems off again, they seem to make a habit of being the fly in the ointment. RightToAnOpinion
  • Score: 0

10:55am Thu 26 Jun 14

david1966 says...

I hope the West Somerset County Councillor that is just opening a coffee shop in Williton is not making the decision on this move of staff - kerching!
I hope the West Somerset County Councillor that is just opening a coffee shop in Williton is not making the decision on this move of staff - kerching! david1966
  • Score: 1

12:44pm Thu 26 Jun 14

topcataj says...

So it'd be more confusing for everything to be in one building than spread out all across the town? At the moment if you don't know whether you need Somerset County Council or Taunton Deane District Council (and many don't know the difference it seems) you've might have to walk the full length of town if you get it wrong.
They didn't seem to think it was confusing when the Police were planning on moving in to Deane House.....
So it'd be more confusing for everything to be in one building than spread out all across the town? At the moment if you don't know whether you need Somerset County Council or Taunton Deane District Council (and many don't know the difference it seems) you've might have to walk the full length of town if you get it wrong. They didn't seem to think it was confusing when the Police were planning on moving in to Deane House..... topcataj
  • Score: 2

1:04pm Thu 26 Jun 14

Tell_it_as_it_is says...

The Lib Dems need to make sure that they don't end up on the wrong side of the efficiency, simpler public access and cost saving arguments.

They have a valid point about capital receipts being used up in annual spending and the loss of an asset in Taunton Deane's balance sheet.

With plummeting reserves and a gaping black hole in Taunton Deane's finances by 2015/16 (not plugged by combining Officers with West Somerset Council), then how is the new £5m Olympic swimming pool affordable, whilst High Street is an unsightly shambles and there no spending to keep main shopping streets properly clean and clear of bubble gum stains?

Somerset retains a "two-tier" Council system, with no less than 6 councils (five District Councils and the County Council), whereas Cornwall and Wiltshire Councils have a single ("unitary") council.

People are naturally confused by which Council provides which service and uniquely in Taunton, we have two Councils in the same town, so when someone says "the Council", which one are they referring to?

Having two Councils HQs in the same town (Taunton Deane & Somerset County Council) and sharing the same local paper, seems to create additional sensitivity in Taunton Deane. Why is that, if serving the public right first time is a common aim?

Sharing offices and creating one place to go to get help, regardless of the service needed and without understanding how local Councils are structured & organised, is plain common sense.

These shared offices are called "hubs" and they already exist and work effectively with other District Councils in Bridgwater, Williton and Shepton Mallet. Why not Taunton?

If The County Council moved into Deane House, would there be quite the same amount of sensitivity and "fuss"? I think not.

Will Taunton Deane go ahead and build a shiny, new and expensive HQ on a prime riverside site amidst austerity & cut backs?

The hub idea is, I believe, the right & sensible thing to do.

County Hall happens to have the space, now that 33% of posts have gone in the budget cuts, so that is the obvious co-location route to take.

We need our Councillors to set aside the more parochial concerns and put the public, our services and operating efficiency first.

Otherwise, could an incoming Government after 2015 insist on Council re-organisation and mandate a unitary Council on Somerset for cost & efficiency reasons?

Would we then be adding another empty white elephant building for Taunton Deane riverside HQ, to the empty SW Regional Fire Centre - still unoccupied and costing money for nothing?
The Lib Dems need to make sure that they don't end up on the wrong side of the efficiency, simpler public access and cost saving arguments. They have a valid point about capital receipts being used up in annual spending and the loss of an asset in Taunton Deane's balance sheet. With plummeting reserves and a gaping black hole in Taunton Deane's finances by 2015/16 (not plugged by combining Officers with West Somerset Council), then how is the new £5m Olympic swimming pool affordable, whilst High Street is an unsightly shambles and there no spending to keep main shopping streets properly clean and clear of bubble gum stains? Somerset retains a "two-tier" Council system, with no less than 6 councils (five District Councils and the County Council), whereas Cornwall and Wiltshire Councils have a single ("unitary") council. People are naturally confused by which Council provides which service and uniquely in Taunton, we have two Councils in the same town, so when someone says "the Council", which one are they referring to? Having two Councils HQs in the same town (Taunton Deane & Somerset County Council) and sharing the same local paper, seems to create additional sensitivity in Taunton Deane. Why is that, if serving the public right first time is a common aim? Sharing offices and creating one place to go to get help, regardless of the service needed and without understanding how local Councils are structured & organised, is plain common sense. These shared offices are called "hubs" and they already exist and work effectively with other District Councils in Bridgwater, Williton and Shepton Mallet. Why not Taunton? If The County Council moved into Deane House, would there be quite the same amount of sensitivity and "fuss"? I think not. Will Taunton Deane go ahead and build a shiny, new and expensive HQ on a prime riverside site amidst austerity & cut backs? The hub idea is, I believe, the right & sensible thing to do. County Hall happens to have the space, now that 33% of posts have gone in the budget cuts, so that is the obvious co-location route to take. We need our Councillors to set aside the more parochial concerns and put the public, our services and operating efficiency first. Otherwise, could an incoming Government after 2015 insist on Council re-organisation and mandate a unitary Council on Somerset for cost & efficiency reasons? Would we then be adding another empty white elephant building for Taunton Deane riverside HQ, to the empty SW Regional Fire Centre - still unoccupied and costing money for nothing? Tell_it_as_it_is
  • Score: 2

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