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Public services “should be in one place”

4 February 2011

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Emergency services should share the same space as local authorities in order to save money, according to local government minister Eric Pickles.

His comments, which included him suggesting job centres and GP surgeries should do likewise, came as he backed a business report that claimed councils would be able to bring in around £7 billion a year if they sold off their assets such as town halls and office buildings.

The Westminster Sustainable Business Forum, chaired by Tory MP Matthew Hancock, claimed the biggest savings would be made if “all public services are provided from the same location”, though it acknowledged that this kind of move would provoke resistance.

Speaking at the publication of the report in the House of Commons, Mr Pickles insisted that placing everything in the same building would not only save money but would also make life easier for people who rely on public services.

He also suggested that voluntary organisations could be housed in the same place.

“Sensible use of public money demands that we do start to share public buildings,” he insisted.

“This is about ensuring that somebody wanting help, assistance and advice goes to one place. It doesn’t matter whether it is the health service, the police, the district or county council. Why should they have to take a basic lesson in civics to know where to go?”

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Westminster Sustainable Business Forum