Ipswich/Suffolk: Councils maintain separate offices on opposite sides of the same street as the divide remains
- Credit: Archant
While the county council shares offices with St Edmundsbury in Bury and will have a joint office with Waveney at Lowestoft, in Ipswich the borough and county have separate offices on opposite sides of Russell Road.
And while the county council has offered the borough space in its offices, there is little immediate prospect of them sharing a single office.
Both the county’s headquarters at Endeavour House and the borough’s Grafton House offices are too big for them – both have leased out part of the buildings to other organisations.
NHS staff have moved in to part of Endeavour House while one floor of Grafton House has been taken over by Smartest Energy.
The county would be keen for the borough to share their offices, to create a single local authority hub for the town – but the borough is much less keen on the idea.
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County cabinet member for finance and property Colin Noble said: “Suffolk County Council is already at the forefront of sharing office accommodation, as we do with other Suffolk authorities and the police.
“So there is no reason why we can’t look at doing the same with Ipswich Borough Council. Significant costs have already been cut out of the public sector estate in Suffolk – and much more could be saved.
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“Local government really must lead by example and find ways of working together to make the savings that are needed.”
However Ipswich Council leader David Ellesmere said there would be significant problems with sharing offices: “I don’t think there would be room for the borough in Endeavour House for a start – and there is a difference in that we don’t own Grafton House, it is leased to us.”
The borough has eight years remaining on its lease for the building it moved into in 2006.
Mr Ellesmere added: “We are a separate organisation and I don’t know that it would save a great deal if we were in the same building as the county.
“As the borough evolves and if more space becomes available we would be happy to sub-let more of the building – it brings in a very useful income for us.”
He added that the county and police had shared the borough’s customer information centre at the Town Hall in the heart of Ipswich – but had pulled out several years ago.
However Ipswich MP Ben Gummer felt the two authorities should move in together: “It works well in Bury and is going to happen in Lowestoft. People aren’t worried about which council they should go to, they just want a single point of contact.
“I know the county would like to work with the borough on this – and there is a shortage of high-quality office accommodation in Ipswich so Grafton House would be very attractive for the rental market.”