Grafton House offices rent out plans

JUST over three years after it moved into its new headquarters, borough councillors are considering renting out a fifth of their office space.

IPSWICH: Just over three years after it moved into its new headquarters, borough councillors are considering renting out a fifth of their office space.

Ipswich council is considering sub-letting one of the five floors it has at Grafton House, in Russell Road - and a handful of leisure administrators have moved to sports centres around the town.

Borough deputy leader and finance spokesman John Carnall said the borough was looking at ways of cutting costs or increasing revenue and was hoping to sub-let space at its headquarters to bring in extra money.

He said: “The fact is the building is not full, there are many parts that are being under-used and it would make a great deal of sense to try to get an income from that.”

Mr Carnall said the change could be introduced during the next financial year.

Ipswich Council does not own Grafton House. It rents the building on a 15-year lease from the Mars pension fund.

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At present 486 people work at Grafton House - but there are 520 workstations.

When the borough moved into the building from the old Civic Centre in 2006 some members of staff were moved to the customer service centre in the Town Hall - partly because there was not enough room in the new headquarters building.

A spokesman for the borough said many of the people who were officially based at Grafton House did not work there all the time - and some merely used it as a base before going out and working in the community.

“With different ways of working and 'hot-desking' you find much of the building is empty much of the day,” said Mr Carnall.

Opposition leader David Ellesmere said he had heard nothing about any proposals to sub-let part of Grafton House and pointed out that the borough was proposing to transfer officers from its area housing offices to its headquarters.

“How are they going to fit everyone in, or are they looking to get rid of more people?” he asked.

No one from staff union Unison was available to comment on the proposal - and no organisation has yet been approached to take up the space that becomes available.

Is there enough space in Grafton House to rent out a floor to another organisation? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk