A MAMMOTH effort to bring about a u-turn on plans to move the district council’s customer service centre to the Royal Pump Rooms in Leamington has been defeated.
Not only was a petition of over 2,000 signatures against the relocation of its customer services department to the existing Pump Room shop presented to members of Warwick District Council at a full council meeting on Wednesday July 26.
But councillors from within WDC’s own ranks had called-in a decision unanimously made by Cabinet at the beginning of July to go-ahead with the project, for reconsideration.
Councillors voted against taking further action on the petition and against holding Cabinet to account.
The petition -‘Hands off our Pump Rooms’ – was 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. It called on WDC to consider moving the customer services department to Leamington Town Hall instead.
The petition was presented by Chris Bowen who said the council had previously dismissed the argument that historically the town hall was better suited to hosting council services but argued what was history there for, but “to guide the future”.
However, portfolio holder for the project Coun Jessica Harrison reiterated there was no suitable unoccupied space in the town hall otherwise “they would already be there”.
The move to the Pump Rooms 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.
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.
Coun Alan Boad said he had called in the decision made by Cabinet as he claimed they had not been provided with enough information, including how many customers would be using the centre, which had now been made available.
WDC leader Coun Ian Davison, who led the vote against calling-in the Cabinet’s decision, said he believed all the relevant information had been available and there was no more time to “dither”.
Following the meeting Coun Davison added: “Buildings like the Pump Rooms and the town hall are special for our town and district as a whole and it’s right this decision has been very closely scrutinised. This issue has now been fully debated by two overview and scrutiny committees, cabinet and full council.
“Delaying the decision further would cost more for no gain. It’s time to get on with sensitively providing a high quality customer service point for residents while continuing to look after our beautiful historic buildings.”