Hopes that Kingswood Civic Centre may win a reprieve

Published on: 01 Jul 2016

HOPES are rising that the closure-threatened Kingswood Civic Centre may win a partial reprieve.
Council jobs are still set to be moved to the offices in Yate but the sale of the whole building is looking less likely after an organisation sought to rent the office space.
If a deal can be struck, Kingswood will be able to keep its Civic Suite, which comprises the council chamber, committee rooms and training facilities, as well as the council One Stop Shop.
This will be a boost to an area that has already lost local jobs following the closure of the Soundwell college campus last year.
A recommendation to pursue this alternative plan, rather than closing the whole centre, was being considered by councillors as Downend Voice went to print.
More than 1,600 people signed a petition against the proposal to shut the centre, but the ruling Conservatives said it would have to close because the council could not afford to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on offices it did not need.
Announcing the new proposal, Tory leader Councillor Matthew Riddle said :“We recognise that the Civic Centre is a source of great local pride for the people of Kingswood. However, we also strongly believe that we shouldn’t be wasting public money on surplus office space whilst having to make savings elsewhere. As such, with some innovative thinking I am pleased to say that we have found a way to save over £400,000 a year, without affecting frontline services. The money we save with this creative proposal will now help us maintain our frontline services in a challenging financial environment.”
Labour’s leader on the council, Kingswood councillor Pat Rooney, said the plans still failed to address Labour’s concern about the loss of jobs from Kingswood. Councillor Rooney says:
“The revised proposal would still see hundreds of council jobs shipped out of Kingswood,” she said.
“This will increase commuting, congestion and traffic pollution, with staff forced to travel further to work. We have made the point that Kingswood has higher unemployment levels than most of South Gloucestershire, and that local people want local jobs. We do not know how many jobs a new tenant might provide, but the council should be setting a positive example by investing in Kingswood.”

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