Lib Dem – budget amendment – guess number 1

We have presented our budget and wait with mild curiosity to see what the Lib Dems will propose as amendments. We normally see a range of uncosted or implausible ideas designed to hit the headlines rather than do any good.

More for entertainment than any serious politics I thought I might indulge in trying to guess what they might come up with.

First up I suspect they will want to build a shiney new Council HQ. This has been brought up recently again and seems a pet project for the Lib Dem leader. Why? I suspect they will have convinced themselves that because Shire Hall is a few years old that it is not as energy efficient as a brand new building and this reason alone is reason to move.

What they won’t have thought about nor probably have much interest in is the facts around the finances of trying to move from Shire Hall. In opposition, it would appear that letting the facts get in the way of a good story is unnecessary.

So what are the facts?

Any move is distracting for staff and has cost implications.

Files show there has been work going on in phases since 2001, ending with a presentation in 2007 that suggested a possible extension to the main Shire Hall building.

In 2008 County Council appointed DTZ to provide options, final report 2009.

The DTZ report included an assessment of values for alternative uses for the Shire Hall Campus prepared in conjunction with Carter Jonas’s Cambridge office. They concluded in their report at the time that a residential use would produce the greatest value, see 2009 valuation in the table below, that could fund a possible relocation.

However there would still not be sufficient value to relocate Shire Hall to a new site unless:

· The new site was free.
1 20% in reduction in headcount and a reduction in floor area using a 5/10 desk/staff ratio.
2 Minimum cost of new build to deliver a Breeam excellent rated building.
3 Shire Hall Campus sold at maximum value

Also at the time there was no assessment of cost for the relocation of the IT machine room from the Octagon included in the figures.

3. Nov 2009 cabinet resolved to: “carry out sufficient maintenance and upkeep to give the campus ten year’s further life whilst continuing to maximise the use of the site through WorkWise”.

4. In 2011 the values were revisited as follows;

2009 valuation (residential use) Oct 2011 valuation (mainly commercial)
Castle Court (incl. Blackhorse House) £6.30m £9.00m
Shire Hall/Octagon £6.30m £7.70m
Register Office £0.75m £0.75m
Site fronting Castle Street £0.95m £1.30m
42 Castle Street £0.35m £0.35m*
Old Police Station £0.90.m £0.90m*
TOTAL £15.55m £20.00m
*The maximum value for these two elements remains the residential value

5. These are gross figures and do not include any disposal costs, relocation and HR costs nor re-provision of a new site. As an illustration of some figures I have extracted the following from the DTZ report:

In 2009 DTZ estimated that relocation costs for the staff to a new site on an assumption of £150 per FTE was around £190,000.

Additional mileage payable to staff for extra mileage to get to a new Northstowe office cost £694,000 in yr1, £347,000 in yrs 2 and 3.

Then there would be the new build cost and design fees, for full relocation based on 2009 assumptions of space usage and head count, estimated at £37m plus land acquisition of £10.2m. For a partial vacation of the Shire Hall site, i.e. retain Shire Hall building, dispose of the rest, the new build cost would be circa £25m and land cost £6.9m.

Regarding the decision to stay, the DTZ report was based on relocating to Northstowe and that option is still several years away.

One comment

  1. The fun thing about opposition must be that you can suggest anything you like and the media will snap it up as something to write about. They should try being even *more* dramatic. Relocate Shire Hall to a low orbital space platform? No problem. Solar panels will work *particularly* well up there. ; )


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