Conservative councillors in Keynsham are calling on Bath and North East Somerset Council to engage more with the public on the future of the town’s Riverside office complex and leisure centre.
The town’s councillors have raised concerns that residents and businesses feel they are being kept in the dark about the Liberal Democrat-run Council’s plans for the site in the centre of the town.
With options for the future of the site reaching a more advanced stage, Conservatives are pressing for full public consultation to take place as soon as possible in order to avoid the controversies which have surrounded the design of the new Town Hall site.
Conservative councillors have said that the Riverside redevelopment and relocation of the Leisure Centre should not be presented to residents as a fait accompli, and that various ideas and options for the future of the site should be put to local people to gather their views.
Councillor Alan Hale (Cons, Keynsham South) said:
“It’s absolutely essential that the redevelopment of the Riverside site meets with the approval of Keynsham residents. We simply cannot have the same situation as we did with the design of the new Town Hall, which has split public opinion, caused major controversy and delayed the project.
“Two issues which are immediately clear is that the current leisure centre should not be closed until a new one has been completed, and additional parking must be created before any is lost to redevelopment. B&NES has to learn from past errors.”
Fellow Keynsham councillor Marie Longstaff (Cons, Keynsham East) added:
“The principle of redeveloping of our town centre and Riverside office complex has wide public backing and will provide a long-overdue boost to our town. However, at the moment, the message we as local councillors are getting is that residents and businesses feel they are being kept out of the loop as B&NES develops its plans for the office site and Leisure Centre.
“We are therefore pressing B&NES to undertake a full public consultation at the earliest opportunity. This has to be a genuine consultation, where local people are shown various ideas and options for the Riverside site and location of the Leisure Centre, and not simply presented with a fait accompli.”