To consider the attached report on the accommodation update for the council offices.
Maryvonne Hassall the ICT Manager introduced the accommodation update report. She noted that things had changed since this had been written due to the opening up of restrictions as from the 19 July. This would not mean a return to the office for everyone. It was expected that people would mainly operate in a hybrid mode, sometimes in the office, sometimes at home, and sometimes at other locations, or working out in the field. The accommodation project would be formally closed within the next few weeks when they will review its outcomes and the need for further actions and the understanding of how we could use the new spaces. Familiarisation sessions have been set up and have started. Preparations were underway for the opening of the Community Hub. A provisional opening had been set for the 16th August subject to final agreement with the partners on the 2nd August. We are also still in discussions with Essex County Council about usage of some of the ground floor space for the library.
Councillor Janet Whitehouse commented that the projects were not ready for closure as members had not seen the building and they needed an opportunity to give feedback. As an example, the air conditioning went off in the evening just when the members were coming in for meetings. She also noted that the Civic Offices were being referred to as ‘The Civic’ which did not make sense as it was just an adjective.
Councillor Morgan noted that members had not had their familiarisations sessions as yet. The Chairman noted that a tour would be arranged on the 29th July and there had been one previously.
Councillor H Kane noted that at the beginning of the project members were asked what they would like to see in the building, but since then some of the officers had left and other people had taken over, so our suggestions were lost. Things had changed and we needed to know what had changed from the original plans and since our consultations. A Small noted that the familiarisation sessions were next week, and it seemed sensible that we waited until after that to capture members views and then come back with a further report to this committee for a further debate.
Councillor Jon Whitehouse asked why we no longer issued the clear rubbish sacks from the Civic Office reception, why was that an improvement, as it was a basic service. He was told that the number of places where you could pick them up from around the district had increased and so we no longer used the Civic Offices.
Councillor Morgan commented that originally, we were going to have a Members room, but we do not have a Members room anymore. He was told that the space was still there for Members and officers. It would be better to have this conversation after the familiarisation session next week.
The Committee noted the summary of progress on the Accommodation Programme as at 6th July 2021 when this report was written and the verbal updates.