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West Suffolk: Councils are praised for seeking to make savings through better use of office space at West Suffolk House

08:00 20 January 2014

The West Suffolk House council offices in Bury St Edmunds.

The West Suffolk House council offices in Bury St Edmunds.

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More than £150,000 in a year could be saved for taxpayers in Suffolk through maximising the use of council offices in Bury St Edmunds.

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A review of West Suffolk House in Western Way has been carried out by St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Suffolk County Council, which jointly own the building.

A report which is going before a meeting of the Shared Offices Joint Committee on January 24 said an estimated £153,662 in a full year could be saved if the building was used to its full potential.

A key proposal is to increase the total number of desks available in West Suffolk House from 491 to 524.

This would allow the relocation of Suffolk County Council staff from Caxton House, a leased building in St Andrews’ Street South in the town centre, which houses children and young people’s services.

A borough council spokeswoman said: “The building – opened in 2009 – already has staff from the joint St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath council team, Suffolk County Council and other public sector partners have worked from here and used the meeting rooms.

“We’re proposing to increase the number of desks and move some staff around the building to create room for more people to work from the offices in Western Way.

“The reorganisation will mean savings in overheads which will benefit council taxpayers.”

While energy and water consumption costs will increase due to the extra workers in the building, Suffolk County Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council will each receive 50% of any desk occupation charges and rents from third parties.

A spokesman for the TaxPayers’Alliance said: “It’s absolutely right that councils seek to make better use of the office space they use.

“The scale of the savings is testament to the fact that local authorities can cut waste without cutting front line services.

“This kind of approach should be adopted at every council location, and in some cases buildings should be sold off entirely.”

The committee is also expected to approve replacing the audio system in West Suffolk House’s conference chamber – at a cost of about £50,000.

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