PROPOSALS to move Cornwall Council staff in St Austell from Penwinnick Road to new offices at White River Place have been put forward in a bid to safeguard hundreds of jobs in the town.
Business leaders and town councillors are urging the unitary authority to consider the plans, saying they fear hundreds of its workers based in St Austell will be transferred to a new office block due to be built in Bodmin.
In December councillors at County Hall agreed to build a £15 million complex at Bodmin's Beacon Technology Park, hoping BT staff would occupy some of the space, but there is no guarantee this will actually happen and Alex Folkes, Cabinet member for finance and resources has warned that staff from St Austell could be moved to fill the empty offices.
Steve Double, mayor of St Austell, said he and Mark Robinson of Ellandi, which owns White River Place, were attempting to persuade Cornwall Council to move workers there instead.
"We've presented figures that demonstrate opportunities to keep jobs in St Austell and save the council far more money," he said.
"Ellandi has offered the council space. Now we're trying to convince Cornwall Council to take the offer seriously. The move would secure jobs in St Austell and help bring footfall into the town centre, which would bring a big boost to shops."
Plans to move office staff from Penwinnick Road into the town centre were put forward in December by Together St Austell, a group of business leaders supporting development in the area.
Its proposes the council takes on a 17,050sq ft unit at White River Place to house offices and a One Stop Shop.
Mike Wimble from Ellandi said such a move would provide a huge boost for the town centre: "This is an exciting opportunity to not only secure jobs in St Austell town centre but also to support retailers and restaurants, bringing council services closer to the community, with better access to public transport.
"Relocation of these facilities will also draw thousands of members of the public to the town, to the benefit of national and local businesses, and save Cornwall Council more than £8 million in the coming years.
"We can be flexible in our specification, depending on what officers and politicians decide is best, and we look forward to positive discussions with all stakeholders."
Together St Austell chairman John Kneller said: "We welcome the positive comments made by our mayor and are very happy he's supportive of this part of the Together St Austell vision. By working with Steve and other members of the council to find the best possible solution to this issue, we're confident it will have a positive impact on St Austell and its future."