Agenda item

Accommodation Closure Report

As agreed by the Select Committee in July 2021, to receive a closure report for any major project that were finished.


The Select Committee to note and discuss the closure report for the accommodation project.


M Hassall introduced the closure report for the Accommodation project which had been accepted for closure at Cabinet on 13th September 2021.


Officers were reviewing closure reports to ensure that they would get better at writing them. This report laid out how the project performed against its original objectives. The project came in on time and on budget; there was also a section on lessons learnt; any unfinished part of the project which came to our notice at the end of the project, would be picked up and finished separately.


Councillor H Kane asked when the second floor would be made available. She was told that it had already been let. Councillor H Kane added that there was no mention about when it was finished and if it was under negotiations or it was already let. She was told that this was due to timing. Councillor Philip added that he had reported on the letting of the second floor on a number of occasions at full Council meetings. They were nearly there with the letting to the tenant and this would be finalised within the month or so.


Councillor H Kane then asked about the provision of a new entrance for the public to generate more income through a café facility. Where would this be situated? She was told that it would be at the end of the building, below the members room.


Councillor Jon Whitehouse noted that it was worth having a closure report coming to the committee. He asked what was happening about the lettable space and what was the occupancy levels of the conference space and when was it most used. He was concerned to see that parking was still one of the outstanding matters in the report and finally what was the initial evaluation of the Community Hub as it has not looked very busy to him. He was told that in relation to the conference suite, they were still at the beginning of this at present, they were still looking at how they were going to market it and because of the Covid, the take up on this was low. They did have some lettings but that was still very few. Officers would bring this back at a later date to show what the plan would look like. This was also tied up with the letting of the second floor and how the spaces got used. Councillor S Kane commented about the parking, there were a few variables on this, one being the negotiations with the tenants on the 2nd floor, the other was the future development of the Conder Building and when we would lose that car park. We know where we would end up and were working towards this. It would ultimately be a phased approach going through to the final position. Councillor Philip noted that when they had started this, they had no intention to rent out the second floor. During the pandemic they had realised that they could do this.


Councillor H Kane said that she had spoken to a lot of officers who had said how nice the new building layout was. She noted that we had restrictions about carrying out changes to the chamber, but it did need updating and sprucing up; was this in the schedule.  Also, we had lots of meeting about what furniture we as members would like to see and we all said that we would like higher settees and chairs but ended up with furniture that was too low. When we asked why, they said that they had changed everything with like for like. As with the Chairman’s office, no consideration was taken of our views.  M Hassell replied that that they were looking at member requirements and at the Chairman’s office and a mini project had been set up to look into this. As for the Council Chamber this would be update in the general scheme of things.


Post meeting update:

“We do actually have the budget to paint the chamber and the preference would have been to do this before the offices reopened. Typically the work should be carried out in August as the chamber is in use far less although now we have the conference suite if the members were happy to decant for a period of time we could do it sooner. I think though that given the length of time they spent out of the chamber during the refurb some councillors may not opt to decant. The team have also had quotes for treating and polishing the leather and French Polishing the wood. Realistically with our current workload, restructure and current staffing issues, the new financial year was a more suitable time to plan the works in.”


Councillor Jon Whitehouse asked if the Council had now stop discouraging members of staff from coming into the office if they wanted to. He was told that they did not discourage staff but asked them to follow Covid precautions, there were still quite low numbers coming in, people had now changed their working patterns and we were monitoring to see if this was also effective for the organisation as well.


Councillor Jon Whitehouse suggested that the message that people could come back had not filtered down to officers. This may be a communications issue. Mr Small said that they had did their best to encourage staff to come in and were keeping this under review.  Councillor Jogia asked if teams were encouraged to come in on the same day to encourage team bonding. She was told that this was left up to the team managers to organise, but we were still working our way through this.




That the committee reviewed and commented on the report and noted the formal closure of the ‘Accommodation Project’.



Supporting documents: