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Proposal to move Weymouth and Portland council staff is slammed
Councillors and trade representatives are calling for a rethink on proposals that would see nearly 100 Weymouth council workers relocated over the Ridgeway.
Nearly 100 ‘back office’ staff would be relocated to the county town under the plan.
The report to councillors ahead of a meeting of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s management committee today recommends relocation to South Walks House as the most ‘cost effective solution’.
Mark Blunden, president of the Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce, said he is ‘disappointed’ with the plan.
“This seems to be another example of jobs being bled from Weymouth to Dorchester.
“The more jobs we retain in Weymouth the better it is for the town.”
Nigel Reed, Weymouth Business Improvement District (BID) manager, said: “Every day these council workers come into town for a sandwich or a cup of coffee.
“If this goes ahead the council is officially taking away a boost of trade, even if you’ve got 100 people only spending £20 a week.
“There are plenty of offices above shops the council could look at using.”
The borough council, which shares services with the district council, has agreed ‘in principle’ to dispose of its North Quay site, which was built between 1968 and 1971 and has been used by the authority for 40 years.
Councillor Ray Banham, who represents Melcombe Regis, said he had concerns about the relocation recommendation.
“We don’t like it but it’s a matter of cost saving and retaining the services along with the front line staff,” he said.
Coun Christine James, who represents Westham North, said she wants the borough council to look at relocating locally.
“If we’ve got space we should try and relocate locally,” she said.
North Quay’s annual planned repairs and maintenance budget was £76,000 and the council has agreed to reduce that to £41,000 to produce a saving of £35,000 for this financial year.
Repair works have been identified that would cost more than £2million and require staff to move on a temporary basis, the report says.
It also suggests The Mulberry Centre in Commercial Road could be used for visitors to see council staff and make payments.
A civic suite for meetings could also be built in the town centre or an existing building could be converted, the report says.
'Maximum use of depot'
THE report, by the council’s director of environment David Evans, also says ‘maximum practical use’ should be made of the council-owned Crookhill Depot at Chickerell.
One of the report’s recommendations is to seek outline planning consent for the redevelopment of the prime waterside North Quay site.
The relocation of staff to the Crookhill Depot and South Walks House could happen early next year.
Staff have been consulted about the moves and were briefed on the contents of the report.
Councillors will decide on the recommendations at today’s meeting.
Savings of partnership
BOTH councils signed up to the WestWey Partnership in 2011.
The partnership working programme was devised to achieve £8.5million of savings over five years.
A total of 80 jobs were axed from both authorities to save money and a joint chief executive for the two authorities was appointed.
In October the Echo reported that a minibus taking council workers between offices in Weymouth and Dorchester cost £70,000 to run over the five month trial period it was in operation for.
Figures revealed that take-up was not as high as anticipated – out of 100 eligible workers just three people used the shuttle bus on one occasion and on average it was used by 40 workers a day.
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