Sunday, 29 November 2009

Civic Office Plan Overturned

The economic climate continues to take its' toll on local finances, as it appears that the proposed £50m relocation of the borough's civic bureaucracy has been put on hold.

Linda Fort reports the expected outcome of a special session of the council on Tuesday 1st December will be to recommend an interim plan.

She explains this will involve some council meetings moving from the deteriorating asbestos-ridden civic centre to Reading's Old Town Hall, plus the refurbishment of buildings in South Reading to provide space for as many as 700 of the council's 5,000+ employees.

Independent Cllr Tony Jones described the yet-to-be-announced decision as a 'U-turn' and a 'climbdown' by his former colleagues in the Labour party, explaining that 'decoupling' the relocation of council accomodation from the redevelopment of the civic centre site in Hosier Street as a "common sensense" solution.

Howard Thomas of the self-styled Common Sense Party repeated his objection to the £3.7m spent producing the shelved plans (although this figure only covers the period up to March 2009).

Both Howard and Cllr Jones expect empty office property in the town centre to be taken up by council staff, while the central library could integrate the customer service centre.

Oranjepan asks:
If the outcome of special council meetings have already been decided and reported in advance what meaningful business is left? And if there is no meaningful business to be done at council meetings what purpose does the expensive relocation of the chambers serve?


Update: Reading's New Directions service will relocated to the Central Library from the new year.

Cllr Richard Willis says it was one of the shortest meetings he has ever attended.

He also suggests that by some calculations the total cost of the scheme could have amounted to as much as £120m (when all 'anciliary' costs are included).


Background: New Civic Centre Discussions; What Shall We Do With The Civic Centre?


  1. Gideon Mack Orangutan29 November 2009 at 16:42

    Let's not be hard on Reading Borough Council. RBC is a role model to other local authorities and the people it represents.

  2. you ask what purpose? Let me know if anyone ever figures out any council

  3. I have to say that I think decisions made openly are more honest and consequently better - that the process which allowed the plans to move ahead wasn't completely transparent may explain why it got into trouble.

    The current fudge is better than some alternatives, but it just isn't good enough.


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