Council Office Refurbishment – Money Well Spent?

Much has been made of the proposed refurbishment of County Hall; members are asking whether this money well spent, or indeed needed given the present financial climate. I myself have queried the amount and the rational behind it. Even during the budget a couple of Members raised it again. This plan is part of the bigger project of the types and numbers of Council Offices around Cornwall.

Only the other day I received an e-mail from one of my electorates questioning why we were spending this amount after they saw an article in the Helston Packet. I have been considering how many other people had the same thoughts. So, I have decided to give those who read this blog the facts and not the many other stories that are being banded around.

I am grateful to Peter Marsh, Head of Property for answering my many questions on this subject. The investment at New County Hall is part of the Councils office accommodation vision which, after a thorough review, was endorsed by the Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet. The purpose of the investment in NCH creates additional capacity in the building which contributes to the release of:

– £3.3m of revenue savings per annum from property

– Over £16m in capital receipts

– Reduces carbon emissions from the office estate by 30%

– Equates to 140 front line jobs retained.

The investment is funded by capital receipts and therefore represents the re-use of capital already tied up in existing property assets. Such capital funded money is not available for paying revenue costs of staff. The money cannot be released without the investment to create additional capacity in the retained buildings.

The next phase at New County Hall is the Public link due to start in April 2011. This is refurbishment of the reception space, and former democratic services space. It will provide new meeting facilities, a replacement catering facility from its current temporary home, and IT training facility to replace that which currently exists in a leased building at Threemilestone. A key benefit is to provide meeting rooms in the publically accessible part of the building in which it is easier to meet residents, partners or clients. This will release space currently taken up by meeting rooms elsewhere in the building.

The wider refurbishment is due to continue after the Public Link and we are currently re-visiting the specification, costs and details.

So there you have it, the facts. Now over to you for your views and comments on this subject

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