Westminster considers move from City Hall

Council could share a building with Conservative ministers including Eric Pickles

Westminster Council is considering moving from its Victoria headquarters to share offices with Conservative government ministers Eric Pickles and Grant Shapps.

The move would see staff move from the 19-storey City Hall building on Victoria Street to the top six floors of Eland House where the Department for Communities and Local Government is based in Bressenden Place.

Westminster chief executive Mike More confirmed that a move is a possibility but stressed that no decisions have been made.

In a letter sent to Westminster Labour leader Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, Mr More says: “We are looking at this option although there are still a number of points of negotiation which at this stage make it uncertain whether there will be any “deal”.

He adds that “any deal would need to be financially advantageous to the city council” and if a deal is to be done, the council would “look to avoid a move in 2012”.

The council confirmed if the move were to go ahead, council committee meetings will be held in meeting rooms on the ground floor of Eland House which has its own separate side entrance.

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Cllr Dimoldenberg says the council needs to think about the long-term considerations of sharing with Mr Pickles, who is Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and his colleagues.

“The Conservatives obviously believe that this is a marriage made in heaven,” he said. “But what happens when the Conservatives lose the next General Election? I doubt if the next Labour Secretary of State would want to share offices with Shirley Porter’s successors.

“This is a risky move by Westminster and could end up in tears, with the council homeless on the streets around Victoria.

“Westminster is so strapped for cash that it can no longer afford to pay the rent for a home of its own and has to go cap-in-hand to its friends in Government for somewhere to live.”

Mr More said: “Given the current tough economic climate it is only right that we are currently reviewing our office space in order to ensure it provides the best value for money.

“This review covers City Hall in Victoria Street and some of the options on the table include remaining at our current site, or a partial or full relocation to another nearby building.

“It’s important to stress though that no decisions have yet been taken and we remain open to all options at this stage.”