A PROPOSAL to move Bramshott and Liphook Parish Council staff members into the Millennium Centre within the next two years is being looked at again.

The parish council revealed last year it was planning to invest large amounts of money into the centre, which is now 18 years old, and was never finished off properly.

Improvements require between £80,000 to £100,000 to be invested over the next two to three years.

Last year council chairman Jane Ives announced talks were taking place with architects and surveyors to work out the costs of a move and expansion of the centre which opened in 2000.

She said the council is keen to relocate its office to a central point in the village, which will be easy for members of the public to visit and that plans have been drawn up by Adrian Bird, a local architect, free of charge.

Talks about the expansion are already taking place with East Hampshire District Council, the planning authority.

The parish council currently has its offices at the Haskell Centre in Midhurst Road, which provides limited accommodation.

Two years ago a working party was set up to conduct a feasibility study to move all parish council staff under one roof at the Millennium Centre.

A new working party has now been formed to carry out a further feasibility study, led by Mrs Ives, vice-chairman Jeanette Kirby, newly co-opted member Jessica Taplin and Joanna Cadman, the locum executive officer, who will be liaising with the capital projects working party.

Currently the centre’s event manager Gill Snedden, and administrative assistant Nicky Taylor, occupy a small office at the Millennium Centre, in Ontario Way, as well as a reception area in the foyer.

Councillors agreed the office and reception area were too small for both staff members and decided to look at restructuring the entrance layout, by removing the built-in bar situated in the Canada Room and replacing it with a mobile bar, which can be taken into any of the rooms if required.

That would create a larger office, where both members of staff can have their own desks as well as room for shelving, storage and filing spaces.

Costs, according to an online quote, could amount to £25,000 for the proposed re-furbishment.

The figures were discussed by the finance and policy committee this month and agreed by the majority of its members.

Barbara Easton argued against the proposal suggesting the offices could be moved temporarily into one of the society rooms located along a hallway, away from the foyer.

She claimed it would not be cost-effective to re-design the reception area now, since re-location plans were under way, when a further refurbishment would become necessary again.

Mrs Kirby insisted staff had to be situated within the foyer area to deal with anyone coming into the centre and could not be expected to continue working in the current cramped and draughty conditions any longer.

Mrs Ives said the office re-structure could later be incorporated in the overall refurbishment of the centre at no extra cost and the figure quoted was the maximum cost to be considered.

The current location of the bar in the Canada Room has presented problems in the past, when both the function room and the main hall or any other rooms have been hired out at the same time.

Councillors felt a mobile bar would offer customers an additional feature in any of the rooms and could also increase income.

The centre’s mamangement committee recently agreed to purchase two computers for staff up to an amount of £2,000.

The first £1,000 will be funded from the equipment purchases budget and the balance, up to £1,000, from general reserves.

Over the last year, refurbishment of the centre’s first floor to allow for more meeting rooms has begun, creating more space to enable users to store – at a cost – items of equipment they need on a regular basis, followed by a refit of two meeting rooms on the same floor, located adjacent to the Heritage Centre, to provide better facilities for a variety of uses.

The Millennium centre’s committee has also raised concerns about the public conveniences which are due to be completely refurbished to modern day standards.

A recent fire risk assessment highlighted several urgent actions to be carried out, which include improvements on emergency lighting and training for all staff in fire safety – as well as adequate security lights around the building and the introduction of an emergency plan.

Councillors agreed to take immediate action. A general risk assessment is due to be carried out by a working party made up of LMC event manager Gill Snedden, deputy clerk Denise Meek and parish councillors Eddie Trotter and Jeanette Kirby.

The centre has just secured a 10-year contact from Methodist Amateur Dramatics (MAD) Company, who will be staging their annual panto as well as a summer production.

Other regular users include Liphook U3A as well as Bramshott and Liphook Arts and Crafts Society (BLACS), who are due to hold their next annual exhibition weekend from Friday, April 13 to Sunday, April 15, while Film and Food nights have become popular events attracting patrons from far and wide.

In addition, the large and fully-equipped commercial kitchen has been hired out to a catering company on an hourly basis, creating additional income, after receiving a professional deep clean.

In September 2016, the parish council bought back the office of Hampshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, located at the back of the Millennium Centre, for £12,700, which was initially used for the Neighbourhood Development Plan steering group meetings.