24/09/2009

Town Council to Remain in Rapidly Emptying Town Hall

Aberystwyth Town Council will be staying in the Town Hall following last minute negotiations with the County Council. The Town Council use just two offices in the large building which is being vacated next week as all other departments move to the new County Council offices in Boulevard St Brieuc (the picture above shows packed cases ready to go). The Town Council’s presence in the iconic building will mean that it will not be boarded up – the fear of many people in the town – but the footsteps of the Town Council’s two employees will certainly echo around the otherwise empty building. And they may be spending quite a bit of time answering queries they have no jurisdiction over.

Now I understand the new County building – Canolfan Rheidol – has a great many advantages and long-term cost savings from having all council officers working in the same new building. But, in pursuing this, the County Council have taken their eye off the ball in terms of their service to the public. Maintaining a County Council presence in the town centre - the new building is almost a mile out of town - should have been part of the plan all along. The point has been made many times over the past year but it’s fallen on deaf ears. Now that the crunch has come people in the Council are starting to take notice.

At the very least the public pay office, where local people go to pay their bills, should be maintained in the town hall together with a front desk to deal with public enquiries. That’s what local residents need and expect. And the offices left empty should be made available to some of the many local charitable organisations in severe need of these facilities.

In any other country in the world, leaving a fine building like Aberystwyth’s Town Hall almost empty would be seen as a terribly poor reflection on the competence of the local authority. Ceredigion Council should wake up and take steps to maintain its presence in this symbolic town centre building.

No comments:

Post a Comment