Councillors opt to keep jobs in St Austell
CORNWALL councillors came one step closer towards confirming the fate of hundreds of its staff based in St Austell this week.
On Wednesday the council's finance and resources portfolio advisory committee voted in favour of proposals to keep the majority of council workers currently based at Penwinnick Road within the town.
It follows fears that hundreds of Cornwall Council employees would be moved to a new £8 million office complex in Bodmin, due to be built next year.
St Austell mayor Steve Double welcomed that vote to keep jobs in the town but warned there were no guarantees at this stage. "I am still very concerned," he said.
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"This all hinges on BT wanting to expand into the new office block in Bodmin. As far as I know there are no assurances.
"If they don't want it, Cornwall Council will have to find council jobs from elsewhere.
"I believe that jobs in St Austell are still very much at risk."
A report advising the committee on the potential options available to the council states the deal with BT is not guaranteed.
The report said: "If BT do not take up the space offered, the offices would still provide opportunities for other public sector partners but there is no ability to confirm those opportunities."
Describing the option as "revenue neutral to the council", the report said the move would reduce the council's maintenance in Liskeard and Truro by more than £500,000 but would not have any effect on maintenance backlog in St Austell.
"It does however preserve the options for the council, recognises the concerns of local members in St Austell, and reduces the maintenance backlog by £0.55m ," the report states.
Mr Double is now calling on Cornwall Council to invest in the council offices in Penwinnick Road to preserve jobs in the town.
"If Cornwall Council is serious about keeping jobs in St Austell it needs to invest some money into the council offices in Penwinnick Road," he said. "There is a £1.7 million maintenance backlog.
"Restormel knew they were going so they didn't spend any money on it. When Cornwall Council took over, the original plan was to sell that site to a supermarket so they haven't spent any money on it. It's been six or seven years since any real maintenance has been done."