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PUBLISHED: 23:00 12 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:51 03 March 2010

AT least £240,000 is to be spent on improvements to council offices to overcome security problems and make it easier for disabled people to use them.

The scheme at Suffolk Coastal's headquarters at Woodbridge will also involve changes to help staff work more easily and flexibly.

AT least £240,000 is to be spent on improvements to council offices to overcome security problems and make it easier for disabled people to use them.

The scheme at Suffolk Coastal's headquarters at Woodbridge will also involve changes to help staff work more easily and flexibly.

Members of the cabinet have agreed the project and have set aside £240,000 towards the cost – though until tenders come in they will not know if this is enough or more is needed to pay for the work.

The work has been agreed following a report last year on the best use of space at the council offices on Melton Hill.

Problems of office overcrowding identified have already been solved, but some projects – such as the need for more car parking – will have to wait until finance is available.

Director of planning and leisure Jeremy Schofield said: "Staff numbers overall at the council's main offices in Melton have been increasing over a number of years reflecting new, and responding to increasing workloads, despite a number of initiatives that have enabled the same work to be done by fewer people.

"As a consequence space is becoming more difficult to find and this is leading to an erosion of the facilities available and inappropriate placement of desks and staff. Meeting space is increasingly at a premium."

The report by Oakleaf Facilities found that space in the council offices was being well-used, though employees did have less than the national average of 11 sq metres each.

The main reception came under the most criticism – slammed as not well located and difficult to find, fronting on to the exit route from the site, with access for people with disabilities particularly cumbersome.

The work to be done will include improving the reception area. A platform lift will be provided – unless a better idea can be found – to improve access for people suffering with disabilities, along with hearing loops and lower counters.

Security at the finance reception counters will be improved.

In parts of the building open plan areas will be created to provide a more efficient, effective and controlled working environment, getting rid of corridors but also allowing extra space for meetings.

Some meeting rooms have been identified as sub-standard, including the training room, and these will be improved.

The offices also do not have enough women's toilets and so more will be added.

While overcrowding is not longer an issue, some of the densely-occupied open plan areas will have improved ventilation and health and safety issues such as cabling will be examined.

WEBLINK: www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk


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