Havering Council to downsize offices to save costs

More services will be moved into the Town Hall, and revenue generated from the newly unused buildings.

More services will be moved into the Town Hall, and revenue generated from the newly unused buildings. - Credit: Adriana Elgueta

After nearly a year of remote working for many of Havering Council's services, the council is planning to reduce the number of buildings it operates in to save costs.

It will invest £1.5million in the town hall so that it can manage more services. This, the council says, will be part of long term strategy to save £900,000 a year.

The £1.5m will go into remodelling of the town hall west wing to provide a new appointment centre and related back offices, improvements to the outside including an improved public entrance and signage, remodelling and reprovision of meeting facilities and flexible workspace with adequate video conferencing and other facilities to support "hybrid" teams conducting a combination of office-based and remote working. It will also upgrade wi-fi and provide suitable facilities to accommodate the services which are relocating.

The council says building occupancy is less than 10 per cent of pre-Covid levels.

Further advantages include convenience and efficiency reasons, such as reduced carbon footprint resulting from having one office, a reduction in travel times and cost between sites, re-use of surplus assets to support regeneration/housing initiatives or potential capital receipts, potential opportunities to encourage further co-location by partner organisations and recruitment and retention benefits as a result of offering greater flexibility and improved facilities for employees.

A Havering Council spokesperson said: “Looking ahead to a time when it is safe to return to offices without social distancing, we are confident that we can continue to deliver services in  a more flexible way that enables the council to reduce around 3pc of the office space that it currently occupies without reducing  staff numbers.

“This will enable the council to make financial savings on accommodation without impacting on front line services to residents.

Most Read

“The planned investment within the town hall will provide a more suitable working environment for staff to work flexibly from home and in the office.”

The council added that these changes will cause some disruption in the short term, but as lockdown continues with such low office occupancy, this is likely to impact few people.