New move still on track
CIVIC Centre bosses today insisted that their move to new premises were on budget and only slightly behind schedule.The move away from their 1970-built headquarters to new offices at the Town Hall and in Russell Road had been due to be completed early next year.
CIVIC Centre bosses today insisted that their move to new premises were on budget and only slightly behind schedule.
The move away from their 1970-built headquarters to new offices at the Town Hall and in Russell Road had been due to be completed early next year.
Now, however, the council accepts that the current Civic Centre will not be emptied until next August - although the public face of the council will move to the Town Hall in May.
And in a possible move that could prove controversial, the council is considering ordering completely new furniture for its new headquarters.
It had planned to move most of the furniture from its existing offices - much of it is still relatively new - but believes it could be cheaper to buy new and sell off the rest.
John Stebbings, who is co-ordinating the move, said: “When you consider the cost of dismantling the current furniture, taking it out of the building, moving it to Russell Road, and re-assembling it all again it is starting to look very marginal.
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“And when you add to that the disruption caused - a move like that will take time - and it really starts to look as if new furniture is the cheaper and more sensible option.
“What do the staff affected do during the three weeks when their desks are in one place and their computers in another?”
The computer and information technology system will be moved across to the new Russell Road headquarters and will not be replaced.
The Russell Road office block is being built for property company North West Estates. Once completed it will be owned by a group of investors including the Mars Pension Fund and leased to the council for a minimum of 15 years.
The shell of the building is scheduled to be completed by next May, and it will then be fitted out for the council.
About 450 council employees will move into the building by the beginning of August - during the quietest time of the year for council work.
WHILE most borough council staff will be moving to Russell Road, its new customer care centre will be established on the ground floor of the Town Hall.
The work on the Town Hall was originally due to be completed by Christmas, but that has been delayed because of unexpected problems.
John Stebbings said: “The contractors came across a four-inch iron water main which linked in directly to the six-inch main in the town centre.
“They had to stop work while that was delayed - and there was also a delay of about a week after the hail storm in June which came at exactly the wrong time, just as the roof of the Corn Exchange was off.”
These problems delayed work for a few weeks - which meant that the Town Hall would be ready by the busiest time of the year.
“January to April is our busiest time, so when it was clear we wouldn't be able to move our customer centre to the Town Hall at Christmas we decided to put off the move until May.
“That also means we can send out details of the new centre with our council tax bills for next year - so everyone will know what has happened.”
Although the work has been delayed, the cost to the council has not gone up - Mr Stebbings said the final figure was still set to come in within the original budget.
By the end of this year 550 people will be employed at Civic Centre.
100 people will move to the Town Hall in May.
450 will move to Russell Road in August.
The centre is closing because it needs £13 million spent on it if it is to have a long-term future.
Civic Centre was built in 1970.
It is expected to be demolished and the site used for a new retail development, probably with a Waitrose at its heart.