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Christchurch offices face potential sale
CHRISTCHURCH’S Civic Offices could be sold off under fledgling money-saving plans being drawn up by council chiefs.
Plans to locate staff from both councils in one place are still in the early stages, but it is understood officers from both councils have been briefed about the potential changes.
In an internal staff email seen by the Daily Echo, joint chief executive of Christchurch and East Dorset councils, David McIntosh tells staff: “It would make sense on both economic grounds and in terms of efficiency to have the majority of staff in one location.”
The email, headed “Future Council Office Accommodation”, goes on to suggest three options, which include, staff located at the Civic Offices in Christchurch, Furzehill, or some other office building in the area.
Officers have been calculating the options while leaders of both councils and portfolio holders have also been informed.
Both council headquarters buildings cost £400,000 a year to maintain.
Space calculations estimate that with some home and remote working, all staff could be accommodated at either Christchurch or East Dorset.
And while discussions are still in their early days, members’ minimum requirement is a customer access point and civic facilities in each of the two areas.
In his email, Mr McIntosh said: “Clearly there is a lot more work to be done if this is to come to fruition. We are very much at the concept stage, exploring the possibilities.”
He added: “I would stress two things to you. This will only go ahead if both councils agree and secondly if it does happen, it will be some time away.”
A statement from David McIntosh confirmed the plans were being looked at and reiterated that there was a lot more work to be done if this is to come to fruition.
Cllr Colin Bungey, Independent ward member for Jumpers said: “I’m totally opposed to any such move.
“But unless the Conservative members put their foot down and say enough is enough, my fear is that within two or three years there will be no Christchurch council.
“I, along with a couple of other members expressed fears at the time that this was more than a mere partnership but were assured it wasn’t a merger. Were we lied to?”
Cllr Fred Neale, Independent councillor for Jumpers said: “It is a shock. When the two councils first started talking about working together and saving costs, we never signed up for a total and complete merger.
“This is what we are getting or could be getting now.”
Former Christchurch Mayor, Michael Hodges added: “We’re likely to find that Christchurch gets shoved into Wimborne if this does indeed go ahead.
“It’s completely misguided and will have far-reaching effects.
“It’s also completely contrary to the information we have been given all the way along, and by the Chief Executive.”