Following pressure from Conservative Councillors and Keynsham residents, Bath and North East Somerset Council has now confirmed its commitment to building new Council offices and a new Library as part of a redevelopment of Keynsham town centre.
The announcement comes following a question tabled to the Council’s Liberal Democrat Cabinet by Conservative Councillors. The commitment marks an about-turn from the Liberal Democrats’ previous position, who before May’s local elections described the proposals as ‘grandiose’ and sent the plans back to the drawing board.
In an answer from the Lib Dem Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, the Council has now confirmed it will stick to the Conservatives’ original plans to create new shops, public spaces, library, and One Stop Shop to access public services as well as new, more sustainable, Council offices.
Conservative Councillors in the town have welcomed the news, having argued that without the commitment of Council offices in the development it would prove difficult to secure private investment or reduce the Council’s office costs.
Keynsham North Councillor and Conservative Shadow Cabinet Member for Resources, Cllr Charles Gerrish, said:
“It’s very good news that the Lib Dem Cabinet has said it now accepts that our original plans will deliver the best prospect for economic regeneration as well as save on the Council’s office costs. There are some U-turns which are to be welcomed in politics, and for the residents of Keynsham this is certainly one of them. We’re really pleased that our strong arguments in favour of this development have won through.”
Cllr Kate Simmons (Cons, Keynsham South) added:
“The regeneration of Keynsham town centre will benefit not just the town but residents across B&NES by saving large sums on the amount the Council spends on renting its old offices. We will now be working to ensure that the plans meet with the aspirations of Keynsham residents and that the Council is proactive in securing a positive future for Somerdale and the old Riverside offices. We look forward to seeing the detailed plans in the autumn.”