Money-saving pledge to taxpayers as council offices officially opened
PUBLISHED: 10:37 17 June 2017 | UPDATED: 11:28 17 June 2017
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A council leader has promised his authority’s new headquarters will protect taxpayers by reducing future running costs.
Ray Herring said Suffolk Coastal’s offices, near Woodbridge, would create ‘significant long-term savings’, at the building’s official opening by the Lord-Lieutenant, Clare, Countess of Euston.
Since staff moved into East Suffolk House in December, Mr Herring said it had already provided value for money.
“Bringing this project home on time, within budget, and to such a high specification, was a major achievement,” he added.
“The fact we have achieved this without creating any extra tax burden on local people, and now have offices that should create significant long-term saving for the taxpayer, is something we can all be proud of.
“Importantly, we have now got a modern, energy-efficient headquarters, which will enable us to continue to provide a high quality of service to local people.”
The council’s old base in Melton Hill, Woodbridge, was sold last year – subject to contract – to Active Urban Property Group, which plans to submit housing proposals later this month.
The sale followed a four-year process, beginning in 2012, when the council launched a review into its accommodation across the district. In 2014, Suffolk Coastal decided to move from Melton Hill – which, it said, was too big for current staffing levels and was becoming increasingly expensive to maintain and repair – to new premises at Riduna Park, Melton.
Mr Herring said: “Our aim was to protect the taxpayer by reducing the council’s running costs in the future.
“The fact these purpose-built offices were built on a brownfield site was an added attraction, as was the opportunity that the move should bolster the economy of Melton.”
Capital costs of the £5.5m relocation project are being covered by money from the sale of Cedar House and old headquarters in Melton Hill. By downsizing, Suffolk Coastal aims to save £200,000 a year in running costs – rising to £500,000 in the long term.
In January, Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils agreed to create a new, single ‘super district’ council.
However, Mr Herring said joint headquarters would not be appropriate, adding: “Experience has shown, people prefer their services to be accessible and be provided as locally as possible.”