Council false economies

All across the South-West, councils are coming up with the same wheeze to supposedly save taxpayers’ money—by spending more of it on new council headquarters! We’ve had Bath & North-East Somerset wanting to spend £12.4million on a new town hall at Keynsham, then Dorset council spending £13.1 million on a brand new HQ, both taking decades to recover the claimed 10 per cent administration savings.

Now, a TPA supporter points out a similar false economy in North Somerset with his council spending £9.7 million on a new town hall at Weston-super-Mare (which needless to say involves shutting down yet another library), and a further £17.7 million spent on shifting 550 council staff into new offices in Clevedon. Sure, a projected saving of £700,000 over three years might appear on one set of accounts, but what about the £27 million it cost to move these bureaucrats? Do council officers really think we are that stupid not to notice that they are merely shifting expenditure for one pot to another—and spending much more doing it?

In the meantime the re-development of the Tropicana leisure complex at Weston-super-Mare has hit the buffers yet again. This time, a multi-million pound private investor has pulled out because of a row over parking.

Richard Nightingale had the temerity to ask that the council might lift its yellow parking lines in the area and provide extra parking on the beach, but this was rejected by councillors who insisted he build a multi-storey car park nearby. So, on one hand you have a private individual wanting to spend millions on transforming a vacant beach front amenity and creating dozens of new jobs, and on the other hand you have councillors more concerned about their parking revenues. Do these ladies and gentlemen really deserve a brand new taxpayer-funded HQ?

Tim Newark, Bath & South-West TaxPayers’ Alliance

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