A PETITION against contentious plans to move the district council’s customer service centre to the Royal Pump Rooms is to be presented to councillors.
Members of Warwick District Council will receive and debate the petition of over 2,000 signatures at a full council meeting on Wednesday (July 26) after giving the go-ahead to the relocation of its customer services department to the existing Pump Room shop earlier this month.
After much debate, in which the town hall was put forward as an alternative, members of WDC’s Cabinet decided to unanimously approve officer’s recommendations and support the Pump Room move.
They also agreed to look at alternative locations for the shop – including potentially installing it in one of the current empty shops in the town centre.
The move comes as the council seeks a temporary base for its homelessness officer and housing services department after moving out of its Riverside House headquarters in June.
The intended plans sparked a online petition – ‘Hands off our Pump Rooms’ – started by The Leamington Society earlier this year, who are opposed to the historic building being used for purposes other than recreation and the arts. The petition has attracted 2,318 signatures – more than doubling from 1,000 in just the last few weeks.
And due to the continued strength of opposition to the move, the petition is to be put before councillors in a bid to change their minds.
The council will be addressed by Chris Bowen, on behalf of the petition organiser, and then councillors will debate the petition and decide how to respond.
They could either take the action the petition requests, not take action for reasons put forward in the debate, or commission further investigation into the matter by a relevant committee.
Riverside House, on Milverton Hill, was the base for 350 council staff but due to a combination of its size, running costs and more flexible working following the pandemic, it was no longer considered fit for purpose by WDC.
Staff will be temporarily relocated to Satisford in Warwick and Leamington Town Hall, with a customer service area set up for face-to-face services at the Pump Rooms.
The Leamington Society believe this will not only alter the appearance of the historic building inside and out but also deprive local artists and authors, The Leamington History Group and The Leamington Society the opportunity to sell their wares.
The group suggested the customer services department could move to the town hall instead,
This option was dismissed by councillors at the previous Cabinet meeting.
Coun Jessica Harrison, the portfolio holder for the project, said there was not adequate space at the town hall without it being disjointed and it was less accessible to the public than the Pump Rooms, especially considering those accessing these services were the most vulnerable members of the community.