£150k revamp of Frome offices is branded a waste of tax money
Frome Town Council has been accused of wasting taxpayers' money after agreeing to spend £150,000 on an office refurbishment.
The decision was made at an meeting held last Wednesday evening at the Assembly Rooms.
Town clerk Paul Wynne recommended councillors stop looking for new premises, after an exhaustive search proved fruitless, and refurbish the listed offices in Palmer Street.
He said architects had looked into the proposal and had concluded that it would cost in the region of £150,000 to refurbish.
The council had an existing £300,000 budget for office relocation but Mr Wynne suggested that figure be halved and the rest re-allocated to town centre improvements in earmarked reserves.
Councillor James Godman (Con, College) said he would not support such an ill-thought out and ill-conceived plan.
Mr Godman said: "How can you think about spending £150,000 to refurbish an office when people are struggling to survive in this current climate. There are plenty of rooms in the library, why not move into one of them?
"Look at the economic climate, it is a waste of money to refurbish and you should look to wait until the economy is right."
Councillor Graham Burgess (IfF, Berkley Down) said he was dismayed that the previous administrations had wanted to relocate at considerable expense and that this proposal would save money.
Councillor Nick White (IfF, College) said his concern was that the council could be open to criticism.
Council leader Mel Usher said it was investment in a council owned building.
Mr Usher said: "The recession will only end when people start to invest. We have an obligation to do something. The previous administration spent ten years looking for somewhere.
"The county council charges us to have the information point in the library and would want to charge us even more if they have the space, which it said it does not.
"It is not the most ideal situation but it will save us money that is earmarked and is central to the town."
Councillor Dave Anderson (IfF, Keyford) asked what had been decided on temporary accommodation while the refurbishment was taking place.
Mr Wynne said he had looked at several options and was considering offices at the Saxonvale Centre, but nothing had been decided.
The vote was carried by a majority and Mr Wynne said he hoped the refurbishment could begin in the summer months.