A CAMPAIGNER has claimed Kirklees Council plans to move staff from Oldgate House into Huddersfield’s vacated Tourist Information Centre.
Last month the council announced that the Albion Street office would close to save money.
Kirklees plans to move ticket bookings to Huddersfield Town Hall and tourist information to Huddersfield Library saying the move would save £58,000 in the next two years.
But Stan Solomons, who is campaigning to keep the tourist information centre open, believes the real reason for the closure is different.
The Cowcliffe man said: “The closure has nothing to do with saving money. Kirklees wants the tourist centre in Albion Street to be vacated to free up space for one or more of the council departments being kicked out of Oldgate House at the other end of town.
“Most people think Oldgate House is owned by the council, but in fact Kirklees leases the building from a private landlord. The lease is up and the various education departments housed there have been told they must leave by October.
“That, of course, is shortly after the date by which the council says the tourist centre will close.”
Mr Solomons added: “Why didn’t the council tell us the truth at the outset instead of floating this cock-and-bull story that the closure will save £58,000 over two years? Quite where they conjured up that figure from is difficult to imagine.”
Mr Solomons added he has organised a protest against the closure at Huddersfield Methodist Mission on Lord Street on St George’s Day, April 23, at 8pm.
A council spokeswoman said: “Oldgate House is a leased building. Kirklees Council is currently looking at all its town centre accommodation, whether leased or owned, to assess how to make the best use of it.”
Meanwhile, the University of the Third Age, which has been based at Oldgate House for more than 15 years, is facing an uncertain future.
Judith Wilcock, office administrator for the voluntary education group, said: “We’re in Oldgate House by grace and favour so we’re not in a position to demand anything – we just hope the council will find us somewhere else.”
The University of the Third Age offers classes in more than 100 subjects to people who are over-50 or registered disabled.
Mrs Wilcock said the group was anxious for information.
She said: “We’re very happy in Oldgate House and it’s unsettling not knowing what’s going to happen. We could do with knowing so we can put the details in our 2009/10 prospectus. If not, then we’ll have to send a mail-shot to 2,500 people which will cost a bit.”