Whoops – sorry. Missed off that This is from the Isle of Wight council – Ed
In a further measure to cut costs and streamline the organisation, the Isle of Wight Council has announced plans to drastically cut the number of its operational buildings and at the same time double the number of staff who work from County Hall.
The move is designed to raise £1.2 million in capital receipts and yield ongoing annual revenue savings of £1.8 million. It will also assist the council to effectively redeploy staff as it sheds over 500 posts to help the council find £32 million worth of savings in the coming four years.
Under the latest plans, leased offices including those in Langley Court, Lower St James’ Street and the High Street all in Newport, and at Medina Village in Cowes, will be surrendered, while owned properties including the Social Services HQ at Fairlee, the Family Centre at Atkinson Drive, Newport, St Nicholas House also at Newport and the social services office at the Town Hall, Ryde, will be among buildings sold.
12+ to be shed
In all, more than a dozen buildings will be either vacated or sold by March next year while the number of staff working from County Hall will grow from 350 to over 700.
As well as the financial advantages of this approach, public benefits include making County Hall fully compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act, increasing the range of services available to the public from what is a central location and also allowing more members of the public to access public meetings.
The plans will help dramatically reduce the council’s carbon footprint and also include options for other public sector organisations such as the Passport Office and the Department for Work and Pensions to operate from the new enhanced customer service centre.
County Hall conversion up to £4m
The scale of the revenue savings and capital receipts are such that the cost of the work – up to £4 million – should be recouped in just two years.
Because of regulations governing local authority finances, the money to be used on the project (capital) could not be spent on the delivery of services (revenue). Money saved from reduced operating costs (revenue) can however be used to support frontline and priority services.
IW Council chief executive Steve Beynon, said: “This is a major and very necessary review of the buildings from which we operate. It is clear that, certainly in the current economic climate, we can and must operate from significantly fewer buildings.
“In order to do this however, we have to modernise County Hall so it can safely accommodate greatly increased staff numbers and also more members of the public who will be able to access a greater range of services.
“Investment is very sound”
“The case for making this investment is very sound. The ongoing savings from operating in fewer buildings will be quickly realised and this money will help support our priority services.
“The total capital investment – that does not take a penny away from ongoing services – will also be quickly recouped in the coming years.”
Mr Beynon said: “Alternative options such as building new offices or renting alternative office space were looked at and dismissed as they were too expensive and impractical.
“If we did nothing it would mean the council continued to work out of a number of buildings that are expensive to maintain and that would hinder our ability to deliver the financial savings and more efficient working practices that we must.
“It is important that as we look to reduce staffing levels, we also examine the number and suitability of the buildings from which this smaller workforce will operate. This long-term solution offers the most practical and cost-effective way forward.”
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