New civic offices tenant could boost council’s coffers

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ANOTHER tenant for Fareham’s civic offices is being lined up as the council looks to save money by sharing facilities.

Public Health England (PHE) is the latest organisation to express an interest in moving in to the council.

It comes after the Integrated Offender Management and the Wessex Youth Offending Team moved in in 2011.

The move, which would see PHE move into the fifth floor of the civic offices, would generate £700,000 for the council over the five-year lease.

It was welcomed by council leader Sean Woodward, who will be making a final decision on the plan at a meeting of the executive on Monday.

Cllr Woodward said: ‘It really is very significant. It is partly due to the fact that we have more space as compared to five years ago, we have around 25 per cent fewer staff.

‘It is a feather in the cap of Fareham to have the headquarters of Public Health England here.’

The news comes after it was reported that Fareham police station faces closure next year, and that the Safer Neighbourhoods Team are in discussions to move into the civic offices, to ensure a presence remains in the town.

Leader of the opposition Paul Whittle said he had concerns about the police moving into the offices, as he believes it could discourage people from visiting the council to get help.

He added: ‘I welcome any opportunity to maximise the use of the council’s services through income generation and through constructive co-operation between agencies but there is a danger of muddying the waters as people will think the council is the place to go for everything.

‘Multi-agency work is healthy but it’s not always in the best interest of our customers.’

Cllr Woodward said he feels sharing facilities is the way forward, especially as the council has had its funding reduced from government.

He said: ‘I’ve always believed it is a good idea to have public services together as much as possible, now that is exactly what’s happening.’

PHE said in a statement that the civic offices have been chosen as a ‘preferred option’ as they are near to its present base at Whiteley.

It says the lease of its current office, on the Solent Business Park, is on a temporary basis and is due to expire in the next few months.

The move will be subject to formal approval from PHE.