Powys council offices under threat

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Jonny Drury

A NUMBER of council buildings in Powys could be under threat as the local authority attempts to reduce running costs.

Last week, Powys County Council (PCC) announced they were considering buying Ladywell House in Newtown, as part of a strategy to “reduce accommodation spending.”

This would mean a number of council buildings, including offices, could be closed.

However the council has denied the move is  designed to reduce the workforce.

Cabinet Member for Property, Buildings and Housing, Councillor Rosemarie Harris said: “Buying Ladywell House is part of long-term strategic plans for the council allowing us to dramatically reduce the number of buildings in the area, reducing overall running costs and providing an opportunity to raise capital through the sale of redundant buildings.

“Although a decision to start negotiations was taken by the cabinet in March and a review of the use of council buildings has been taking place for some time, no decisions have been taken on final council buildings for disposal.

“Any building disposal will be the subject of full discussion and staff engagement at the appropriate time.

“The building is in a key location for service delivery and could provide us with an opportunity to enter into a commercial agreement with others, both in the private and public sector, to lower running costs and stimulate economic activity.”

“The space allows us to future proof our operations by disposing of older buildings that are no longer fit for purpose.”

Stuart Hogg Property Consultants say the town centre offices currently produce over £232,000 per annum, and that could potentially rise to over £400,000.

Cabinet Member for Finance Cllr Wynne Jones believes this presents a fantasic deal for the Powys taxpayers.

He added: “It may come as a surprise to many that the county council is spending money on a building like Ladywell House at a time when the revenue budget is under such strain, but I must make it clear, this is a capital investment which offers a fantastic opportunity for the council, and the only impact on the council’s depleted revenue budget will be in a very positive way.

“The council will be able to reduce its revenue costs by vacating other buildings, with the potential of a substantial capital receipt from the future sale of some of the redundant buildings in the area. 

“The strategic review will reduce the number of buildings owned and maintained by the council, and as consequence running costs but it is not designed to reduce the workforce.   

“This is not only excellent opportunity for the council, but more importantly it’s a fantastic deal for the taxpayers of Powys.”

See full story in the County Times

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