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Knife-edge vote paves way for Council to leave Richmond

[Tuesday 07 March 2006]

There is more controversy for Richmondshire District Council after the second highly contested decision in recent weeks was passed on a knife-edge vote.

At a special meeting of the council in Richmond last night, members voted in favour of a motion to relocate council offices to Colburn.

Knife-edge vote paves way for Council to leave Richmond
Knife-edge vote paves way for Council to leave Richmond

In a decision that couldn't have been any closer, the vote was tied at seventeen members for the move, and seventeen against - the chairman's casting vote saw the proposals passed.

This latest decision comes just two weeks after councillors voted six to five in favour of another highly controversial move; the sell off of the town's Yorke Square car park which will fund the move to Colburn. Opponents of that scheme are vowing to take the decision to judicial review.

Last nights vote will undoubtedly anger many local residents still further; yet a report commissioned by the District Council asserts that Richmond could benefit from the move.

The report by consultants, GVA Grimley, which assessed the economic impact on the town, should the proposed move take place found that Richmond could be up to £134 000 a year better off if the District Council moves its offices to Colburn.

The Grimley study forms part of a business case that was presented to Councilors at last nights meeting and does point out that the figure depends on how the vacated premises in Richmond are used.

The Council undertook a survey of its entire staff that would be moved under the proposals to assess how spending habits could alter in the event of relocation. Questions centered on how much is currently spent in Richmond, when that spending occurs, and how it would change if the move to Colburn went ahead.

The 85% response rate allowed consultants to calculate that the relocation of employees currently based in Richmond would lead to an annual loss of income to the town of about £230,000.

However, the Council believes that the proposed use of its current buildings for office and residential space would negate that loss.

What do you think?

Is Richmondshire District Council right to leave Richmond?

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