Kingswood Civic Centre fate to be decided this month

June 05 2016

THE FATE of Kingswood Civic Centre will be decided at a council meeting later this month.

THE FATE of Kingswood Civic Centre will be decided at a council meeting later this month.
South Gloucestershire Council has asked the public for their thoughts on closing the civic centre, despite the fact it was only refurbished in 2011 at a cost of £6m.
The consultation, which has now closed, has provoked 150 responses which be looked at ahead of the council’s Policy and Resources Committee on June 27 where a decision is expected to be made.
One of the options put forward is to sell off the civic centre and move the 200 plus staff to council offices in Badminton Road, Yate.
Another option is for the council to keep part of the building and rent other parts out.
The centre costs the council around £600,000 a year to run. It is in need of new windows which would cost £250,000.
The consultation outlined the Conservative administration’s preferred option which is to:
•Consolidate and rationalise office accommodation at Badminton Road, building an extension for a flexible council chamber and meeting rooms, and to
•Extend and remodel the existing Kingswood library to form a community hub including the One Stop Shop and other council and potentially partner services, and to
•Dispose of the Kingswood Civic Centre, investigating options for commercial use to create employment opportunities in the area.
The consultation document says that this combination “maintains a civic presence and delivers strong annual cost savings whilst offering good flexibility to meet future accommodation requirements”.
All options involve maintaining a presence in Kingswood to deliver local frontline services including library services and the One Stop Shop.
It is likely that any changes would take up to two to three years to implement.
The council is under increasing pressure to cut budgets in order to make huge savings.
The Council Savings Programme (CSP), which began in 2014, aims to deliver £36m of savings by 2019/20 on top of the £43m which has been saved so far.
Conservatives say more than £400,000 a year could be saved by closing the civic centre.
The proposals have however provoked fury from Labour councillors who set up a petition to fight the “short-sighted” plans.
They presented a 1,675 name petition back in February with Labour’s leader on the council Pat Rooney saying the closure of the centre would signal a further downgrading of Kingswood following the recent closure of Soundwell College and the withdrawal of the promise of a Minor Injury Unit at Cossham Hospital.
She said the site on the outskirts of Yate has limited parking and is poorly served by buses from most parts of South Gloucestershire.
Council leader, Matthew Riddle, said: “I would like to thank the public, staff and other stakeholders including the trade unions, who have taken the time to respond to this process. The council’s priority is to protect frontline services wherever possible and the options presented so far show that we can do that, while at the same time saving money on building costs and bills, etc.
“Any options that include changes to the way we deliver services or that impact on our staff will mean further conversations about how we manage that, but we are committed to serving the people of Kingswood and to our staff.”