'We can build it cheaper' - Kerry Michael

PUBLISHED: 09:04 02 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:30 25 May 2010

A PROMINENT Weston businessman has offered to step in to prevent what he says is an 'alarming' move that could see hundreds of Weston jobs moved to Clevedon.

A PROMINENT Weston businessman has offered to step in to prevent what he says is an 'alarming' move that could see hundreds of Weston jobs moved to Clevedon.

Grand Pier owner Kerry Michael says he is prepared to build new council offices on his land next to the town's train station, rather than watch them go to the former Clerical Medical site in Castlewood.

The Mercury revealed last month how the unitary authority is planning on moving Weston jobs to the offices north of the district in a bid to save money.

North Somerset Council would have to borrow £14million to go ahead with the relocation, which could be given the green light at a full council meeting on Tuesday.

Mr Michael said: "It's no secret that we would like to develop the Sunnyside Road site ourselves and I have turned down lots of offers to sell it over the years.

"Not a week seems to go by without someone making an offer, but I have always resisted them.

"My preference would be to build offices that could be rented, so the authority is not burdened with needless debt.

"However, if it meant retaining jobs in the town, I would be prepared to build the offices and sell them to the council for less than the £16million that has been quoted for the Clevedon site."

Mr Michael added that he had always hoped that North Somerset's office requirement would be best placed at the rear of Dolphin Square so as it could become the anchor tenant for re-development and entice a developer for the whole site.

He said: "I am not precious where new council offices are built provided they are in the centre of town, our town.

"I don't think Weston can afford to lose any jobs, particularly in the middle of a recession.

"We are all doing our best to regenerate the town and this would be a very damaging step for our economy, not to mention the further congestion it will cause at junction 21.

Mr Michael says he wrote to council leader Nigel Ashton on Tuesday to suggest development on either the three-acre Sunnyside Road or Dolphin Square site as more suitable alternatives.

He says it could take up to 18 months to build the council offices if he was given the green light.

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