Kirklees Council has been accused of “selling its crown jewels” after it announced 190 of its staff will be moved out of Mirfield in April.
Staff at Kirklees’s social services centre in Westfields, Westfield Road, have been told by the authority they will relocate to offices in Huddersfield this spring, as the council plans to demolish buildings on the site.
While Kirklees insisted it had not yet decided whether to look for developers to take on the site, many see the move as asset-stripping from the cash-strapped authority.
Unison chief steward Graham Paisley said: “The council is closing buildings and centralising services in Huddersfield – which makes it more difficult for people commuting, but also for people locally using the services. We see this as the council selling off their crown jewels.”
Staff will move to Riverbank Court in Wakefield Road, Huddersfield.
Mr Paisley added: “This is a false economy and staff are moving to a traffic bottleneck.”
Buildings on the site that will be demolished will be the lodge, staff accommodation, building 13A and the wrap-around extension to the Victorian property. The council said demolition should be complete by March 2015.
Mayor of Mirfield Coun Vivien Lees Hamilton said: “We take issue with Kirklees on this because it is bound to affect local shops.
“Some of the people who work there will have shopped in Mirfield before or after work and I know some go into the town for lunch.
“I know the council has to downsize but, in the middle of a recession, land is not at a premium, and it would not be a good time to sell it off.”
Amanda Brooke, owner of Brooke’s Cafe in Huddersfield Road, said: “It will take potential customers away from business owners in the town.
“It had felt like the town was starting to redevelop again, so it will be a shame for jobs to be taken away from the town like this.”
Staff will leave the buildings between March 31-April 25, and the buildings will be secured as soon as they have left.
A council spokeswoman insisted the authority had not yet decided whether to sell the site to developers.
She said: “The demolition will not affect the main Victorian building and will not impact on the operation of services at either Orchard View or Knowl Park House.
“There are no proposals yet for the future use of the site.”