Town cllrs against council job move

PUBLISHED: 11:00 05 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:32 25 May 2010

Weston Town Hall

Weston Town Hall

WESTON town councillors are imploring North Somerset Council not to rush into buying a new office in Clevedon.

WESTON town councillors are imploring North Somerset Council not to rush into buying a new office in Clevedon.

They say the unitary authority should look into other options before approving the £16million move to the former Clerical Medical building in Tickenham Road.

At an extraordinary meeting last night (Mon), town councillors voted 14-1 to 'resist the scheme', which would see the resort lose hundreds of jobs.

Their decision came after a previous meeting was adjourned to allow the district council's executive report on the matter to be published.

However, with the report published and many of the details of the move still shrouded in secrecy, the councillors hit out at the unitary authority's executive.

The ruling Conservative group's deputy leader, Councillor Pauline Priestman, said: "The paper that we were waiting for to provide the answers only raised more questions.

"It makes assumptions, but it doesn't tell us what they are based on, all the way through it raises more questions."

Liberal Democrat group leader, Cllr Mark Canniford, questioned why the council needed such a 'plush' office building.

He added: "There's no part of this report that says to me that there's a great benefit of moving to this block in Clevedon.

"But there is a major missing part and that's the affect the move will have on the economy of Weston."

Labour group leader, Cllr Ian Parker, said the report had been cobbled together in a hurry and it was likely that hundreds of jobs would be lost in the resort.

He said: "What is clear from the report is that this building is 81,000sq ft, so the figure that has been quoted by the local paper, which nobody else has been able to substantiate, does not seem to be far off the mark.

"If North Somerset Council is minded to borrow £16million, I would suggest it would be better spent on the Tropicana."

However, a group of seven Conservatives who sit on both councils abstained, claiming they did not want to prejudice their final decision on the matter.

They ducked the decision despite advice from town clerk Malcolm Nicholson that voting last night would not impact tonight's proceedings.

Cllr Marcia Pepperall spoke in favour of the unitary authority's plan, saying it would be 'stupid' not to look for savings in the current financial climate.

Conservatives who sit on both councils revealed they had been privately briefed and the building would cost less than £16million, while the staff would be moved in phases, according to Cllr Ian Porter.

Cllrs Geoff Bunn, Canniford, Clive Darke, David Hitchins, Charles Heard, Jocelyn Holder, June How, Edward Keating, Cyril King, John Ley-Morgan, Parker, Priestman, Leonard Purnell and Clive Webb voted for the motion to resist the purchase of the new office until other options had been explored, with only Cllr Pepperall voting against.

The seven who abstained were cllrs Robert Cleland, Will Collins, Chris Kimitri, Keith Morris, Lisa Pilgrim, Ian Porter and Roz Willis.

As chairman, Cllr Mike Kellaway-Marriott chose not to vote.

Cllrs Steve Edwards, Charles Havill, Andrew Horler, Chris Howell, Paula Howell, Phil Judd, Dawn Parry and Roseanna Warwick were absent.

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