Coastal: New council offices could cost millions

Suffolk Coastal's headquarters at Melton Hill, Woodbridge. Suffolk Coastal's headquarters at Melton Hill, Woodbridge.

Richard Cornwell richard.cornwell@archant.co.uk
Monday, December 30, 2013
10:00 AM

Relocating a Suffolk council to smaller offices to save money and provide a more modern working environment for its staff could cost £6million.

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If Suffolk Coastal District Council does switch to new premises, officers expect the sale of its current Melton Hill site – which some observers say would be ideal for housing development – to provide most of the funding.

Officers have been researching the project for the past seven months and on January 7 will present to the district council’s cabinet the preferred option for the future.

The meeting will take place after the exclusion of the press and public because of sensitive commercial information in the report.

In preparation, the council is putting £6m into its budget over the next three years.

A report said the project was still subject to further detailed business case evaluations and assessments.

It said: “To provide sufficient flexibility within the programme for this process to progress, a provisional budget based on industry average standards has been included. The project is expected to be funded from internal resources only.”

Suffolk Coastal’s current offices, which the council has occupied since it was created in the local government reorganisation of 1974, are said to be no longer fit for purpose, increasingly expensive to maintain and too big for current staffing levels.

Four options have been considered by officers – three possible sites for a new office, and one option for remaining on the current site.

Councillor Robert Whiting, chairman of the Accommodation Project Board and Suffolk Coastal’s cabinet member for resources, has said: “The key for us is to ensure that we find a solution that provides value for money, when compared to our existing costs, while meeting the needs of our communities and our workforce.

“We cannot expect our staff to provide a high quality of service, if we house them in accommodation which is not fit for purpose.

“We need to create accommodation which is fit for the future.”

7 comments

  • What's the betting on the shiny new offices overlooking the river Deben? And the managers get a balcony overlooking the river!

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    Newsmaster Excalibur

    Monday, December 30, 2013

  • The harder times are, the less money is available, and services are cut to the bone (especially, it seems, in Tory-run councils like Waveney and Coastal), the more desire there is to fritter away huge sums of money featherbedding bureaucrats and councillors alike with "fit for purpose, state of the art" offices in both authorities. As I reckon it, the costs for new offices in Lowestoft and wherever in Coastal are somewhere North of £16 million. Add another £5 million or so because they're not able enough to budget accurately, and add back all the supposed "savings", which will also not materialise, and we're looking at £20-£30 millions for these vanity projects. Complete lunacy, and I bet that if these weren't Tory councils, there'd be some strong DCLG words from Pickles or Brandon Lewis, condemning such profligacy.

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    T Doff

    Tuesday, December 31, 2013

  • I sincerely hope that whoever is responsible for this proposed 'cost saving' exercise has done a proper 'cost benefit analysis' ?, also the statement, "We need to create accommodation which is fit for the future" ?, is this taking into account the proposed 'growth' in poplulation in the Suffolk Coastal Council area ?

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    freedomf

    Monday, December 30, 2013

  • Why are council's so determined to out do each other in offices, the service is the marker of a good council not the building they work from. In the real world firms make do with what they have why are councils different. Look around to see what I mean, sell half then work in the other half. Rocket science I think not.

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    a west

    Monday, December 30, 2013

  • Move the offices to felixstowe so they can see first hand what their mismanagement is doing to the town. It would also put them at the heart of where the major part of their council tax revenue is derived. At all costs get them out of their cosy environment in affluent woodbridge so maybe they will wake up to the real issues in the area.

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    paul

    Monday, December 30, 2013

  • I would expect the new building to be in Lowestoft, as most of our "local services" are now run from the there.

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    Marc James

    Monday, December 30, 2013

  • rent half the building out , easy to make two entrances.

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    TERENCE MANNING

    Monday, December 30, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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