1,000 in protest at moving council HQ
COMMUNITY groups have bombarded a council with objections in a bid to force a U-turn over plans to relocate its headquarters.
And around 1,000 people have signed a petition organised by Dresden Residents' Association opposing Stoke-on-Trent City's Council's controversial plan to sell off the Civic Centre.
The authority will move 1,300 council workers from its current Stoke-based offices to new £40 million headquarters in the Hanley Central Business District (CBD).
But concerned residents say the scheme could jeopardise the future of the entire area.
Lilian Dodd, secretary of the Dresden group, a former city council employee, said: "We launched the petition in September and have taken it around the Dresden area. People do feel very strongly about this.
"I feel this whole move is wasting so much money. At the moment we struggle to get little jobs done in Dresden because the council is making cutbacks and yet they are going to borrow up to £59 million as part of this move.
"They have already spent money refurbishing the Civic Centre and that will be wasted.
"It will have a real impact on the town as workers go out to get food and things like that."
The council hopes to raise £25 million from selling buildings to offset the £59 million it must borrow to fund the city centre HQ and other building projects.
However, as revealed in The Sentinel last month, sales of unwanted council buildings and land raised just £2.9 million in two years.
Chairman of Great Fenton Community Association Glenn Parkes said: "We have sent a letter to the council outlining our objection and concerns over the move.
"We feel this move will effect all the other towns. The council is looking to borrow money yet places are being closed – we have already lost our library. I don't even think this is something that will greatly benefit Hanley.
"This is a bad time to sell and if they flood the market with commercial properties it will bring the price down."
Vic Rawlinson, chairman of Shelton Residents' Association, added: "I think the council should stay where it is. I just don't feel they have the money to make the move up to Hanley and I fail to see what the advantage is.
"Stoke as a town is suffering as it is and you wonder what the Civic Centre can be used for."
Campaign group Save Our Stoke has already handed over a petition opposing the plans.
Traders in the town fear the move will kill off business in the area.
Campaign co-ordinator Graham Barrett, aged 61, of Honeywall, said: "It is nice to have widespread support over this issue.
"It is all the towns objecting to the council being simply interested in the city centre and making us 'Hanley-on-Trent'."