Millions must be spent to update authority offices

SUFFOLK: A multi-million pound question mark today hangs over the iconic Landmark House building on the edge of Ipswich.

Opposition councillors at Endeavour House say they have been “left in the dark” about the joint venture with the police to create new joint offices across Ipswich.

The county and police authority are buying Landmark House on the Whitehouse Industrial Estate and St Edmund House in Rope Walk as new offices and a new police station for the town.

Police stations across the area will be closed – including the Civic Drive base – and council offices will also be closed and sold off.

The cost of buying and refurbishing the new offices will total �23.7million.

The Liberal Democrat opposition spokesman for resource management, Andrew Cann, said: “Probably you know more about this deal than I do.

“It is not something that has been fully debated within the council and I would love to know more details about the deal – the figures involved are huge considering the financial climate facing councils like us at the moment.

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“From what I have heard the council would have been better advised to build somewhere completely new.”

At at time when the county is having to look at deep cuts to its spending, it has emerged that the cost of Landmark House includes millions set aside to pay for its refurbishment.

The exact cost of the refurbishment has not been published because the police and county council are still tendering for the work. A spokesman for the police authority said the cost of the refurbishment would not be any greater than the purchase price – and the full details would be published once all the contracts were signed.

Suffolk deputy leader Jane Storey said the deal had been discussed at behind-closed-doors sessions of the county council’s cabinet several times over the last year – sessions which LibDem group leader Kathy Pollard had attended.

She said: “We always knew there would be considerable costs in converting Landmark House.

“In many ways it is little more than a shell because it is not as we need it at present.

“However the cost of that work was reflected in the purchase price which still represents a very good deal for the county and the police authority because we will end up saving �500,000 a year through this deal.”

n Is the deal for Landmark House and St Edmund’s House good news for council taxpayers? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail