Canterbury City Council has dumped plans to relocate into multi-million-pound new offices in the face of heavy opposition.
Last year Canterbury’s Conservative administration announced they intended to leave the council’s current offices in Military Road and move into new purpose-built accommodation in Wincheap at a cost to local taxpayers of over £12 million.
The Lib Dems were the only party to object to squandering vast sums of cash on a grace-and-favour pad, pointing out that large portions of the Whitefriars shopping centre, which are owned by the council and currently sitting empty, could easily be repurposed at a huge saving.
Lib Dem group leader, Cllr Michael Dixey said: “we own Whitefriars and there is now even more vacant space in the upper floors.
“We could easily sell off the existing offices and car park, and raise millions – which will be necessary to plug the hole in civic finances left by the Conservatives’ chronic mismanagement and profligate spending on vanity projects.
“Whitefriars is much more accessible for the public being in the city centre, and staff can use buses, the Park & Ride, and Canterbury East or West, rather than their cars to go to work. This should be a no-brainer considering our pledge to become carbon neutral and play our part in tackling climate change.”
Lib Dem vice chair, Alex Lister added: “In a time when the high street faces unprecedented challenges, drawing people into the heart of Canterbury would be a massive boost to the city centre.
“Sadly, we have lost anchor stores such Debenhams and Nasons which created footfall for nearby businesses.
“Moving the council offices into the city centre would save the council money as well as providing a shot in the arm for local retail. It will be win-win for everyone.”
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