HUNDREDS of local government staff from across north and east Cornwall could be moving to a multimillion- pound admin centre in Bodmin, according to a council whistleblower.
The news throws into doubt the future of Higher Trenant in Wadebridge and Luxstowe House in Liskeard; Cornwall Council has previously stated staff would not be relocated and neither building would be closing.
A council employee has now told the Cornish Guardian some staff in Liskeard have been briefed that they will be moving to Wadebridge in the short term and then to the new centre at Bodmin, due to be built in two years’ time at the Beacon Technology Park and costing up to £14 million.
Liskeard-based staff moving to Wadebridge will have their travel expenses paid by council taxpayers.
At a rate of 45p per mile, a staff member living in Torpoint would be able to claim £15,768 a year for working in Wadebridge.
The council employee said he had read previous statements from the local authority about safeguarding Luxstowe House, but knew they were untrue.
“It was particularly frustrating for us to read that there were no long term-plans to shut Luxstowe House, because we’re being told they might,” he said.
“The longer-term plan was that the east of Cornwall would operate from the hub in Bodmin.”
Cornwall Council has agreed to build a new admin centre in Bodmin, holding up to 675 staff, more than the current workforce at New County Hall in Truro.
Wadebridge town councillor Elliot Osborne, who only last week voiced fears that High Trenant would close, said losing so many workers to Bodmin would be a real blow for his town.
“It’s going to have serious economic implications for both Wadebridge and Liskeard,” he said.
“For Cornwall Council to carry on denying Higher Trenant would close made me and a few others feel the opposite was likely to happen.
“I feel sure the majority of Cornwall councillors would never support the closure, but decisions are left to the few members who make up the cabinet, which is wrong. We should have had an open discussion on the future of Higher Trenant.”
Jeremy Rowe, the Cornwall councillor for neighbouring St Issey, said it was time the truth was told.
“We’ve been given assurances that both the Wadebridge and Liskeard offices were not under threat, and yet we read in an e-mail that they’re aiming for that within two years,” he said.
In response, Cornwall Council again said it had no plans to close Higher Trenant or Luxstowe House, though at times a limited number of staff were moved between offices for efficiency reasons.
“The council is committed to delivering the best possible service which provides value for money and this, on occasions, requires staff to change their base location,” a spokeswoman said. “When this happens, staff will be involved in these changes.”
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