Borough Hall ‘should be demolished’

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The Conservative Mayoral candidate for Bedford wants to move the council from Borough Hall to more ‘cost-effective premises when elected’ and engage property developers to build on the site.

The ex-policeman – now Kempston postmaster – believes the offices are too expensive to run and the prime riverside location could be put to ‘better use’.

He said: “This brutal, ugly and expensive administrative building occupying a valuable site in a prime location is neither of benefit to the borough residents. With the right development deal this could become a special waterside destination, rather than over-priced offices for council workers.

“I am passionate about moving the administrative offices at the Borough Hall from its present location to somewhere else within its boundaries.

“At a time when Mayor Dave Hodgson is bleating on about budget cuts, he and his political team have proudly established their administrative base at Borough Hall investing millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on internal refurbishment at the expense of front line service investment.”

Councillor Michael Headley, Bedford Borough Council finance portfolio holder, was critical of Mr Parmar’s proposals saying: “So the Tories’ big idea is to spend millions of pounds on building expensive new offices for council staff?

“By contrast we are saving £1.4 million a year on council buildings – £1.4 million saved each and every year, not just once. We inherited a sprawling, inefficient estate from the Tories, which was just one aspect of the wasteful legacy they left for local taxpayers.”

Labour leader Councillor Sue Oliver said: “It’s an easy and popular declaration to make as we’d all like to see the ugly Borough Hall demolished as it’s one of Bedford’s eyesores – but we have to be realistic about the current situation.

“Demolition of Borough Hall would cost millions. If it was viable it would have been progressed before now. Is he aware it isn’t just an office building? The linked Riverside Building was specifically designed to house the unique archives of Bedfordshire and thousands of visitors access these each year. In these times of unprecedented cuts to local government funding by the Tory/Lib Dem coalition relocating out of the heart of town at great expense in terms of both finance and staff time hardly seems like a smart priority. Protecting the council’s frontline services is.”

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