Grafton House - true costs revealed

POLITICIANS in Ipswich were today criticised for renting rather than buying after it emerged the cost of shifting to new premises comes to more than previously reported.

POLITICIANS in Ipswich were today criticised for renting rather than buying after it emerged the cost of shifting to new premises comes to more than previously reported.

Last month it was reported that the cost of Ipswich Borough Council moving from the Civic Centre to a new building at Grafton House came to around £800,000 a year in rent.

However, a confidential document leaked to the Evening Star shows the true cost, including maintenance and other costs, stands at around £2.4million a year.

The new figure includes a number of extras such as rates, service charges, running costs and finance charges - and works out as an equivalent of £196,750 a month or £6,468 a day.

The source of the information said it would have made more sense for the council to use some of its land holdings in the town to build new offices.

“The council is the biggest landowner in central Ipswich,” the source said.

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“With some prudential borrowing why couldn't the council have developed its own office on land it already owns in the same area thereby having something to show for this massive investment for the benefit of the people of Ipswich in 15 years.

“Instead will some land have to be sold to meet this massive annual expense?”

Ipswich Borough Council has struck a 15-year dear with the owners of Grafton House, North West Estates, meaning a total of around £12m will be spent on rent during the term of the lease.

If additional annual costs remain roughly the same in coming years the total outlay on the building could exceed £30m by 2021.

Leader of Ipswich Borough Council, Liz Harsant, said: “We have made a very prudent decision to move from those premises.

“We have moved into very energy efficient premises - one of the best in the whole of the county.”

“Everybody has to pay for heating, lighting and business rates.

“I don't think we are suddenly paying anything more than anybody else.”

Do you think the council has made a mistake by renting rather than buying? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

First year 07/08

Rent £852,000 £855,000

Service charge £362,000 £306,000

Rates £200,000 £185,000

Internal premises running costs £388,000 £382,000

Energy costs £49,000 £76,000

Storage £52,000 £65,000

Homeworking costs (IT only) £196,000 £192,000

Lost car park income (net) £101,000 £242,000

Financing charges £161,000 £161,000

Investment income £0 -£250,000

Total £2,361,000 £2,214,000

The report also revealed the exact sum Ipswich Borough Council mad from the sale of the Civic Centre site following the move to Grafton house.

Back in June the Star revealed the council got around £9million from the sale of the Civic Centre - a figure hotly contested by town chiefs as being wide of the mark.

The official report shows the true figure for the sale to be £8.15million, which includes £2.6million for the spiral car park.