A new public service hub is planned for Williton, West Somerset, bringing councils’ staff together with Police.
West Somerset Council’s HQ – West Somerset House – would be adapted to ensure the public can access a wide range of services under one roof. The aim is to bring public services together, including the County Council’s Library and Registrar Service and office space for local police officers.
This will make it easier for people to access services, share costs and make the most of the space available, generate some income for the district council and retain West Somerset Council’s use of the building.
“By working together with our partners – police and the county council – we can improve services for our residents and really make the most of a modern, well-located building,” said Cllr Mandy Chilcott, deputy Leader of the council and lead member for resources.
“Our staffing numbers have reduced over the years so this is the ideal opportunity to create a hub – a one-stop-shop – for the West Somerset area.”
West Somerset House is relatively new, built in 2008, and was designed for a greater number of staff than now occupies the building. Plans agreed in principle by the council’s Cabinet would see underused space being occupied by Somerset County Council and Avon and Somerset Police. There is also potential for a private sector tenant to take up space.
West Somerset Council staff and elected members would continue to operate from the building, while Somerset County Council plans to move its branch library and Registrar Service from current premises in Williton.
David Hall, the County Council Cabinet Member for Business, Investment and Policy, said: “The plans for Williton are part of our Customer Access & Shared Assets project which is all about making it easier for people to access public services and at the same time share costs at a time when everyone’s budgets are under huge pressure.
“The Glastonbury hub has been open for several weeks and has received great feedback. We have been speaking to staff and customers as we pull these plans together.”
In 2014, Avon and Somerset Constabulary announced an aspiration to close and co-locate Williton Police Station as part of the police estates strategy. The enquiry office and local policing base will move to West Somerset House, allowing the police to continue to offer the community local access to their policing services.
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “I am delighted that the Williton enquiry office and local policing base will be moving into West Somerset House. Co-locating and joining our partners not only ensures value for money for local people, but is also more convenient for residents by offering multiple services in one place.
“I know that ensuring local communities have access to their local policing team is really important for residents. Where we are already co-locating with partners in other parts of Avon and Somerset, we have seen real benefits for local people and I’ve no doubt this too will be the case for the immediate and surroundings communities of Williton.”
Avon and Somerset Police will now begin the process of arranging the sale of the current Williton Police Station. Any sale would not be completed until the police have moved into the new public service hub, ensuring there is no disruption to the local community.
West Somerset District Council, Somerset County Council and Avon & Somerset Police will now be working together to decide next steps and plan the relocation to the Williton hub. The plan is for the hub to open next year, though no detailed timescale has yet been agreed.
Posted on Thursday 6th October 2016