A PETITION has been launched against Leamington’s Royal Pump Rooms being used as council offices.
The online petition, ‘Hands off our Pump Rooms’ started by The Leamington Society, is opposed to the historic building being used for purposes other than recreation and the arts.
Warwick District Council intends to use it as a temporary base for its homelessness officer and housing services department when it moves out of its Riverside House headquarters in June.
Riverside House, on Milverton Hill, is currently the base for 350 council staff but due to a combination of its size, running costs and more flexible working following the pandemic, it is no longer considered fit for purpose by WDC.
Staff will be temporarily relocated to Satisford in Warwick and Leamington Town Hall, with a customer service area set up for face-to-face services at the Pump Rooms. According to The Leamington Society, the space allocated for this is the shop and a separate entrance will be made for those accessing the customer service area.
The Leamington Society believe this will not only alter the appearance of the historic building inside and out but also deprive local artists and authors, The Leamington History Group and The Leamington Society the opportunity to sell their wares.
Leamington Society spokeswoman Marianne Pitts said: “The Pump Room is not the right place for the public face of WDC Housing Department and the homelessness Officer and “temporary” solutions may become permanent.
“There are plenty of alternative sites in the town centre.
“Why not restore the Town Hall?”
The move has also proved unpopular with residents.
The petition has attracted almost 1,000 signatures and counting.
Comments submitted include: “Why destroy a significant local cultural benefit and attraction? Surely the Housing Department can be based in another location or even suitable vacant shopping premises?”
Another writes: “The Pump Rooms are an asset to the town and with the museum and library provide a space that both locals and visitors can enjoy. The nearby town hall has recently provided space for a post office. Wouldn’t that provide a better temporary option?”
A further comment reads: “The demise of such an historical space which is used for creative purposes would be nothing less than a travesty.”
A spokesperson for WDC said: “Although the Royal Pump Rooms has been earmarked as a location for some of Warwick District Council’s customer facing services, there is no intention to reallocate space currently used by the Art Gallery or Visitor Centre as office space or a location for the housing team.
“The planned Customer Service Centre will be staffed by a small, dedicated team, providing face-to-face help and assistance to the residents of Warwick district in a variety of areas. These facilities will only occupy a small part of the building, with no impact on the existing library, visitor information or café facilities.
“Recognising the cultural heritage and unique nature of the Royal Pump Rooms is a key consideration in our plans. The Royal Pump Rooms are an iconic location in Leamington, which we believe should be enjoyed by everyone.
“In the coming weeks we will be working with a specialist design agency to produce detailed plans for our Customer Service facilities; to ensure that they meet both the needs of our customers and enhance the community value of the Royal Pump Rooms, without negatively impacting on existing services.”