Liberal Democrats have published a new vision of how local government could look as we emerge from the global pandemic, with a bold and exciting vision for the Guildhall complex in Kingston town centre.
The coronavirus pandemic has presented a moment to reflect on the way we work, with more staff working remotely, whether that's in the public or private sector.
Kingston Liberal Democrats are excited about the opportunity this presents to preserve the heritage of the Guildhall, protect the Council's budget, and bring local government closer to residents throughout the borough.
Plans include moving council services out of the Guildhall complex, and to refurbish the historic Market House in Kingston so that it can serve the community with civic ceremonies and events for years to come.
Council meetings could also take place at locations outside of Kingston, bringing democracy to all corners of the borough, including Chessington and New Malden by using the Council's existing estate. There are also plans to bring services closer to residents through community hubs.
Lib Dems on Kingston Council have been working hard to ensure that the finances go as far as possible to protect vital services, and save the council from the brink of bankruptcy as a result of the previous Tory administration. In recent years, funding from central Government has also been cut from £66 million to nothing.
Cllr Caroline Kerr, Leader of Kingston Council, said, "Councils, including ours, have been forced to once again look at their finances and make hard decisions in light of the pandemic. Lib Dems have continued to call on the Conservative Government to provide more funding for Local Authorities to protect the services residents rely on.
"The Guildhall is an iconic landmark but the reality is that the Council is unable to make the investment needed to bring it up to standard and protect it for the long term. That's why we're looking at options for a partnership to save the Guildhall from disrepair."