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D-Day looming for Duttons Road
10:10am Tuesday 19th June 2012 in News
Test Valley Borough Council’s cabinet will meet on Wednesday (June 20) to discuss the fate of its Romsey offices.
The council is considering selling off its Duttons Road premises as part of a cost-cutting exercise launched in the face of falling income from central government and the authority's own investments.
TVBC says if it were to quit Duttons Road it will continue to hold full council meetings and committee meetings in the town, at the Crosfield Hall, and maintain a customer services team, probably based at the former Magistrates Court in Church Street, recently vacated by Hampshire Social Services.
A six-week staff consultation exercise has been undertaken. The council say there are no plans for any redundancies.
Around 85 staff work at Duttons Road as TVBC have said they would be redeployed to the Beech Hurst offices at Andover, the new Romsey customer services base or work flexibly from home or on the road with the aid of laptops and mobiles.
Ian Carr, leader of the council said: “Despite some comments to the contrary cabinet colleagues and I have an open mind about the future office accommodation needs of the authority.
“Our priority was to ensure that a thorough review was undertaken to establish whether there are any savings opportunities to help meet future budget pressures. I am satisfied that, as part of compiling the business case, officers have conducted a comprehensive staff consultation and engagement exercise. Matters that affect staff are not taken lightly.
“However, in the current economic climate we must leave no stone unturned when seeking future cost savings, while at the same time ensuring that whatever the outcome people throughout the borough are able to access our services through our customer service units.”
The three options before the Cabinet are: One: Maintain existing arrangements at Duttons Road and seek potential third party tenants for vacant space at Beech Hurst.
Two: Move existing staff at Duttons Road (save for Customer Services and TVCS) on to the top two floors and seek potential third party tenants for remaining ground floor space at Duttons Road and vacant space at Beech Hurst.
Three: Provide a town centre customer service facility in Romsey, make improvements to Crosfield Hall to accommodate democratic meetings, relocate staff (save for customer services, duty housing and planning/building control officers) to Beech Hurst and consider alternative uses for the Duttons Road site.
Caroline Villiers, of the local government employees’ union, Unison, said she would be handing over a 1,200 name petition collected from the public and local businesses opposing the closure of Duttons Road.
The union will also be mounting a demonstration outside the council offices.
She said that the public should have been consulted about the proposals which concern taxpayers money.
Staff have seen a report concerning the financial implications of the three options but have had to sign a confidentiality agreement.
If cabinet members vote for option two or three, the matter would have to be ratified by a special meeting of the full council on Friday, June 22.