BT to bring employment boom to Bodmin?
BODMIN could see employment soar with telecom giant BT creating 300 new jobs in the town over the coming two years.
But the jobs hinge on BT winning a shared services contract with Cornwall Council.
The contentious issue led last month to the ousting of Alec Robertson as the council's leader after he and his Cabinet colleagues were prepared to overrule a vote against part-privatisation by the full council.
Now, the local authority has two months to perform a U-turn and agree a deal with BT if the Bodmin jobs are to be created.
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If BT wins the bid, the company's new offices have been earmarked for the Beacon Technology Park, where Cornwall Council plans to construct a new administrative centre for the east of the county by 2014.
BT anticipates increasing staffing levels at its Telehealth call centre currently at Lanivet from 20 to up to 160, and later in the contract, there would be up to 200 additional jobs created in Bodmin.
BT's Paul Ruda said the company's plans for job creation in Bodmin was dependent on the council approving any partnership deal.
He said in light of the recent decision of the full council, his company had been unable to submit a detailed offer and progress the deal at present.
"We belive the commonsense approach in the medium term would be to co-locate at the Beacon Technology Park and take additional space. We aim to maintain the delivery and expansion of the Telehealth service in the Bodmin area.
"Initially we will work in the existing location, but quickly plan and build a state-of-the-art Telehealth-care service centre. The Beacon Technology Park might prove the right location.
"A large percentage of the Telehealth jobs and a fair share of the broader jobs we have guaranteed and targeted are planned for our investment in the Bodmin area."
Cornwall councillor for Bodmin West, Ann Kerridge, who has been in discussion with BT about possible jobs coming to Bodmin, said: "This is a big scheme and there are risks it could go badly wrong like other privatisation projects upcountry.
"However if it goes through then 20 health service jobs in Lanivet are secured with another 150 new ones to be located in Bodmin. The town would gain a worldwide centre of excellence in telehealth and if all went well the number of new jobs BT will bring to Bodmin will exceed 300.
"So there is a lot to gain and it may be a very long time before Bodmin gets an opportunity like this."
Cornwall councillor for Bodmin East, Lance Kennedy, who is a member of the local authority's Cabinet, said he could not comment of the specifics of the BT bid, but welcomed the prospect of so many jobs coming to the town.
"I obviously support any move to increase employment in Bodmin, however the council is yet to put in place a shared services agreement, and it is still something that has yet to be decided by the council.''