Conservatives attack costs for public one-stop shop

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The Conservative group leader on Calderdale Council has questioned plans by the ruling Liberal Democrat and Labour coalition to rent space within the new Broad Street Plaza for a new facility to serve the public.

The one-stop shop facility will enable people to ask questions and seek help for all council services in one place either in person or by telephone. Tory group leader Stephen Baines maintained he wanted to see a facility launched, but stressed the Conservatives do not support the proposed site due to the costs involved.

He added: “In 2002 I had the privilege of opening the first such facility in Todmorden so I am totally committed for this to be introduced into Halifax town centre.”

Coun Baines says the cost of renting the space for the telephone centre costs £5.30 per square foot while the cost of Broad Street is £13.07 per square foot plus a substantial capital requirement.

On the space required Broad Street would cost £77,700 per year more plus the initial capital outlay.

He said: “At a time when the council is looking to reduce costs it would be stupid to accept this size of increase in rent.”

The original proposals for the Halifax Central Library include a now rejected scheme for renovating the Library and Archives and incorporating a Customer First facility.

Coun Baines added that “in the desperate financial times we find ourselves in we now find our local Labour Party, supported by the Lib/Dems, spending money they do not have on a more expensive scheme that the public do not want”.

The cabinet member for Economy and Environment, Coun Barry Collins, said: “The proposed Customer First in Broad Street will be a first class, one stop shop. Like the Customer First facilities in Todmorden and Brighouse, Halifax Customer First will be a place where people can access the full range of council services and information.

“It will replace a number of council offices in and around Halifax town centre. Not only will Halifax Customer First make it easier for residents to get all of the help and advice that they need in one location, it will also be more efficient, reducing the number of premises that the council currently operates from.”