Andover Town Council has raised the prospect of getting rid of its physical presence in the town in a move that could reduce taxes for residents.

The idea was raised during a meeting of the Assets and Communities Committee during discussions of its budget for the coming financial year, with Councillor David Coole questioning the value of the building to Andover taxpayers, the costs of which come to around £41,000 a year when all factors are considered.

The concept received tentative support from other councillors, with officers asked to prepare a report ahead of the matter being considered more fully at a later date.

At present, Andover Town Council occupies offices just off the High Street, which were closed in March 2020 due to the Covid pandemic.

Subsequently, in August, a report was presented to the Budgets and Staffing Committee suggesting the council could save £15,000 by moving to smaller premises and having staff work from home.

At a meeting of the Assets and Communities Committee on Tuesday, January 12, the concept raised its head again after being suggested by Cllr Coole.

He said: “We haven’t used the building since March as an office, we use it as a collection point for post. We are unlikely to go back into the office in the near future, and perhaps the mid to long term future. I question the value to the taxpayer for paying for a building that is sitting empty apart from very administrative functions that can be done elsewhere, and the savings are potentially £41,000 annually overall when you take into account all different factors.”

He suggested that the savings could be used to reduce the precept paid by Andover residents, or instead be used to offer additional “community benefits.”

Cllr Christopher Ecclestone said that he liked the idea to reduce the precept, saying: “If we can make savings then that would be ideal.”

He raised the prospect of potential job cuts with the office closure, with the loss of a receptionist.

Town Mayor Richard Rowles said that the idea of closing the office is something he had thought of for “a long time.”

“I’m not saying we’re taking advantage of what’s going on,” he said, “but the reality is we are guardians of the public purse and if we chose to reinstate a physical presence, in six months or a year’s time, the cost of us finding a physical presence could be a lot less and could be a lot better.”

Cllr Robin Hughes reminded other councillors that they couldn’t decide the issue as it was not originally on the agenda, but said that he would “certainly like to see a proper officers report on ending the lease.”

A subsequent vote on the committee’s budget passed, with Cllrs Hughes, Barbara Long and Luigi Gregori abstaining.