Better than no plan at all

THE Mercury came under attack from North Somerset Council s ruling Conservatives this week, who accused us of 'negativity' for opposing their outrageous scheme to pull in excess of 700 jobs out of Weston.

THE Mercury came under attack from North Somerset Council's ruling Conservatives this week, who accused us of 'negativity' for opposing their outrageous scheme to pull in excess of 700 jobs out of Weston.

Leader Nigel Ashton and his executive used Tuesday's meeting to publically lambast us for urging them to rethink their plan to relocate hundreds of council staff.

They say the Mercury is 'utterly disgraceful' for reporting what they branded 'back of a fag packet maths' to report the council's wish to uproot 700 Weston workers.

They say this, because they expect us to believe they have not decided how many jobs will move. Cllr Ashton insists he has 'no idea'.


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But this is a familiar line. They have stonewalled us for months, refusing to answer our questions and flatly denying a Clevedon move was even on the cards.

Since the council won't answer our questions privately, today we will lay out some facts and ask our questions publically.

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It's a fact, according to the council, that Weston Town Hall houses 695 workers, and the Town Hall will be retained.

It's also a fact that other Weston buildings house 762 people, and the council aims to get rid of these buildings.

It's a fact that 121 council workers are employed elsewhere in the district.

And it's a fact that the Clerical Medical building, which the council wants to spend �16million of taxpayers' money to buy, can accommodate 1,000 people.

So if our 'fag packet maths' is wrong, where will the council put these 762 Weston workers? Will they be asked to set up their desks on the pavement while just 121 workers rattle around in the new 1,000-capacity Clevedon HQ?

Such a suggestion would be ridiculous to anyone with even the most minimal financial or business acumen. Graham Turner, the chief executive of the council, who earns in excess of �100,000 and accused us of fag packet figures would surely concede this point.

Even a fag packet business plan before buying a �16million building is better than no plan at all.

If these workers are not moving why, in late November, did the hard-up council gave 30 days' notice that staff relocation expenses were being scrapped?

And finally, we ask: Do you think the public will accept being kept in the dark and drip-fed this vital information while a decision which could devastate Weston is made behind closed doors?

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