Council rejects proposal to combine Rugby services in one building to save money and make room for housing

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A proposal put forward by two Labour councillors to combine public services in Rugby so they work out of one building has been rejected by the council.

Labour councillors Maggie O’Rourke and Claire Edwards brought a motion at Rugby Borough Council’s full council meeting on Thursday, December 14.

They argued the move could save money and free-up space for housing.

Conservative leader of the council Michael Stokes branded the move a 'cheap shot' and said the council is already working on a much more far-reaching study with the aim of securing local government funding to assist the borough through the One Public Estate scheme.

Cllr Stokes said: "I am disappointed. It was a bit of a cheap shot by the Labour group for some publicity - they know we are running a project that is far more wide-reaching."

The Labour motion stated: "We would ask this full Council to undertake a joint feasibility study with public and private partners currently based in the town centre area to identify opportunities to collectively use their building assets in a more efficient and productive way.

"The study should include the Rugby Benn Hall and Town Hall, Magistrates Court, Police, Fire Service, Adult Social Care, Social Services, Children Services, Age Uk, WCAVA, CAB and CEMEX.

"We believe by the collective pulling of resources we could save money, have a modern building fit for the future that will reduce overheads and provide a seamless service to our local Communities.

"Land that is freed up could then be used to build social housing to help bring down housing waiting lists in the Borough. This would ensure the future sustainability of our town centre businesses who would undoubtedly benefit from those living in the new homes we could build in this area.”

Following discussion the mayor put the motion to a vote and declared it lost.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr O'Rourke said she was disappointed with the result.

She said: "It would perfect sense for these services to start working out of the same buildings and create a one-stop shop.

"We should be cutting running costs rather than cutting front line services.

"Our leaders haven't got it in them to look at the opportunities of sharing space - the town hall is not fit for purpose and I'm sure the public would prefer us to not waste money on buildings."

She said there is a vital need for affordable housing in Rugby to solve what she said are significant problems with homelessness and housing insecurity brought about by universal credit, high rents and debt.