Town hall move to cost jobs but hailed as vital for future

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JOBS will be lost in a Yorkshire council’s move to a multi-million pound headquarters after it was heralded as vital for the long-term future of civic services.

Members of Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet gave their unanimous backing last night to the proposals to centralise the authority’s departments into a single location.

A site that currently houses a police station at North Park Road in Harrogate was approved as the preferred location for the new base. A dozen posts are due to be lost from the 500 staff moving into the new offices, but it is hoped the reduction will be achieved through natural turn-over rather than redundancies.

Council leader Don Mackenzie maintained the centralisation of services is fundamental to ensure the future of the authority amid cutbacks due to the Government’s austerity drive. The council has acquired, or inherited, offices on an ad-hoc basis since local government reorganisation in 1974, and it now needs to be streamlined.

Coun Mackenzie claimed “decisive action” is needed to provide “high quality services at lower cost”, and added: “Bringing our main administrative office staff into a single building will make it easier to achieve fundamental efficiencies and save money.”

North Yorkshire Police confirmed that a town centre base has been secured for the next three years at Craven Lodge on Victoria Avenue to maintain a town centre presence.

The force is building a new base at Beckwith Knowle on the edge of Harrogate. But a proposed deal could see police also based in the council’s headquarters to provide a long-term presence in Harrogate’s town centre.

The council’s relocation scheme is expected to cost £12.4m and will be funded by borrowing and the sale of the existing sites at Crescent Gardens, Knapping Mount, Scottsdale House, Springfield House and Victoria Park House.

Work could start in the middle of next year although the plans still need to be approved by full council on Wednesday next week.