Last night (18 July 2013) Harrogate Borough Council voted to progress proposals to build a new council headquarters at its premises at Knapping Mount
The council has been considering options for reducing its office accommodation with staff currently being split over five main sites: Crescent Gardens, Springfield House, Scottsdale House, Knapping Mount and Victoria Park House.
Commenting on the decision, council Leader, Cllr Anthony Alton, said:
The cost associated with having a workforce spread over five sites is no longer sustainable. A final decision will be made when officers in due course present a further financial options report when we have actual costs from the procurement process.
However, this is a bold decision and probably the biggest the council has taken since 1974.
We are in a continuing economic downturn which means that we have to make every penny count. As the council modernises and embraces new technology the time is right to take the opportunity to be more efficient with our resources and to be much more business-like in our approach.
Councillor Ivor Fox, Cabinet Member for Resources, says this move will bring greater efficiencies for the organisation together with the highest environmental and sustainability standards to minimise energy use.
Councillor Ivor Fox said:
Operating from five sites is costly and inefficient, with five sets of business rates, utility costs etc.
So on all counts it will save real cash which will benefit council tax payers and there will be no external borrowing to fund it. This council has an exemplary record of financial management. We have completed a number of important projects within budget, such as the £11m restoration of the Royal Hall and the new £11m exhibition halls at HIC. This project will be rigorously managed to make sure it is equally as successful. It will, of course, also benefit the wider economy – both through construction work and the conversion of existing office buildings to other uses.
In addition to saving the council taxpayer money and making the council more efficient, it will be a better experience for residents, customers and visitors.
Chief Executive Wallace Sampson is leading on initiatives that really do put the customer at the heart of everything the council does.
Wallace Sampson said:
We are soon to open our new first customer service centre in Ripon where residents will be able to access a number of our services in one spot.
We will also open a similar centre in the new council headquarters and of course it will be far easier for residents to deal with the council when we are all on one site. As well as the customer service advisers, back office professionals will be right on hand.
The council will now develop a detailed brief for architects to compete for the opportunity to help the council draw up a planning application. The council will then consider a financial options report in order to make a final decision on whether to proceed. Any planning application will be subject to full public consultation