Castlewood - residents will 'not see payback for a decade'

PUBLISHED: 17:00 07 October 2011

The move is expected to cost around £26.8million

The move is expected to cost around £26.8million

NORTH Somerset Council's move to the Castlewood site will take a decade to pay back residents across the district.

The £26.8million move, which has seen more than 500 employees moved into the Clerical Medical site in Clevedon, is expected to make savings of £700,000 each year by the financial year 2015/16.

But £4.4million of revenue which may otherwise have been spent on services has been ploughed into the project, and it will take until 2020/21 for that to be made up through the savings.

Opposition councillors on the authority say this money would have been better spent on services facing the chop as the council looks to make savings of £47.3million by 2015 after a harsh Government settlement.

From the last financial year to 2012/13, a total of £4.44million of revenue is being paid into the project, with the majority of that coming in two payments of £1.209million.

One councillor on North Somerset, Congresbury representative Tom Leimdorfer, said: “I do not think it can be justified spending £4.3million of revenue which could have been spent on schools, or social care, or a number of other services which are facing cuts at the moment.

“The ratepayers of North Somerset will not, therefore see a real payback or benefit from the savings for a decade.”

A spokesman for the council said: “We have made the far-sighted decision that for an up-front investment we will generate big savings over the medium to long term.

“Overall, the combination of reduced running costs, the efficient, flexible workspaces at Castlewood and the Town Hall and income from partner organisations will realise savings of £700,000 each year by 2015/16.”

The council also added that £960,000 had already been generated by the sale of empty freehold properties, while £413,000 is already being raised annually through rental income and energy costs, although these costs have not been put back into replacing the revenue paid on the site.

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