New £20m council building 'too small'

COUNCIL chiefs have come under fire after it emerged a £20million landmark centre for local government being built in west Suffolk will be too small to house all workers.

Will Clarke

COUNCIL chiefs have come under fire after it emerged a £20million landmark centre for local government being built in west Suffolk will be too small to house all workers.

Suffolk County Council, partnered by St Edmundsbury Borough Council, won permission last year to build the new public service village in Western Way, Bury.

In the wake of the latest news, it is now looking to buy up the borough council's current HQ building in Angel Hill.


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When the two authorities unveiled their masterplan, the borough offices were meant to be sold off to help fund the £19.6million Western Way building which, they claimed, would see “all the council offices (located) on one site”.

Last night Jane Storey, the county council's deputy leader, confirmed they were looking to buy the Angel Hill building because not all of its staff could be housed in the forthcoming Western Way campus, which opens next year.

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She said staff were already set to be “squeezed” in at the new offices and there was never going to be space for services like the registry office, which will have to go elsewhere.

However, she was unable to say how many county staff might have to be moved into Angel Hill or how much money had been put aside to pay for a second Bury office.

“We are looking at all sorts of property solutions,” she said.

“If there is a unitary authority any offices owned by any of our other councils will belong to the new authority - that would be ideal from a cost point of view and something we are hoping for.”

But Independent borough council member David Nettleton said he believed “a lot of people would be quite irate” if the county council bought the borough offices.

“I suspect they will buy the St Edmundsbury office even though it does defeat the object of moving to Western Way. Why didn't the county council just move to Western Way - it doesn't stack up.”

John Griffiths, leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said: “When we and the county council move to our new purpose-built offices next year, bringing all our services under one roof, the borough offices will be surplus to our requirements.

“However, we recognise that it is an important building on the Angel Hill and any change in its use will be carefully considered through the planning process.

“Nobody knows yet what changes there will be in local government in the future and meanwhile we will be carrying out business as usual.”

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