Delay decision on council HQ’

AS Huntingdonshire District Council announces the appointment of former police press officer, Matt Tapp as public relations consultant for its new £23 million HQ, the Lib Dems are trying to stop the project. The opposition councillors have urged the Gover

AS Huntingdonshire District Council announces the appointment of former police press officer, Matt Tapp as public relations consultant for its new £23 million HQ, the Lib Dems are trying to stop the project.

The opposition councillors have urged the Government to intervene.

Lib Dem leader, Councillor Peter Downes, has written to Local Government Minister David Miliband asking him to halt the lion's share of a £23million programme to replace Pathfinder House in Huntingdon and relocate the council depot.

The party wants a decision delayed until the outcome of a local government review. It believes HDC could be replaced by a new unitary authority, which would take on responsibility for education, highways and social services.

Cllr Downes wrote: "We are awaiting the White Paper in June, which is likely to launch the most wide-ranging reform of local government for over 30 years.

"The possibilities which this exercise will open up, in allowing the creation of larger, more efficient and cost-effective unitary councils, is something we are looking forward to.

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"We understand that your department in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has been briefing chief executives in advance about the implications of the White Paper and the need to create these new councils.

"However, the significance of this message appears not to have reached Huntingdonshire District Council.

"They are proposing to burden any new authority with massive debts as they spend over £23 million for new headquarters buildings. Contracts have not, as yet, been signed, though this is imminent.

"This contract would create an enormous new head office for the district council (larger than the present one) which may become, in a matter of months, surplus to requirements.

"I request your advice and possibly your intervention to delay the signing of any contract, at least until the recommendations of the White Paper make the situation clearer.

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