Posted: Thu 29th Jun 2023

Councillor criticises local authority’s £200,000 spend on office space

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jun 29th, 2023

An independent councillor has criticised the council for spending almost £200,000 on an office space, whilst staff continue to work from home. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Councillor Nigel Dix accused Caerphilly County Borough Council of having its “priorities all wrong”. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Freedom of Information request, submitted by Cllr Dix, revealed the council had spent £190,832.72 developing the first floor of Ty Penallta, in Ystrad Mynach. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

This is in addition to the £1.4 million it spent on upgrading the building’s heating system. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cllr Dix, who represents Blackwood, said: “It’s remarkable that the council can put taxes up nearly 8% and now spend this. They should be putting money into frontline services for the public, this isn’t the time to do up offices.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The council has said it is “consolidating its property portfolio” to reflect its agile working policy and help save money in future. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

A council spokesperson said: “Our main corporate HQ at Penallta House will become our core hub, accommodating most of our office-based workforce. This will allow us to free up a range of other sites and realise additional financial benefits. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“The council has adapted Penallta House to make it a more modern, flexible workspace where more staff can work together in an agile manner. This has been done in a ‘green’ and cost-effective way, with a focus on much of the equipment and furniture being reused, reupholstered, pre-owned or remanufactured from existing items. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Doing things differently, such as making changes to our key buildings, allows us to deliver more with less without impacting upon frontline services. This is an important piece work to help make CCBC a more modern and flexible organisation, which has the added benefit of delivering key savings as we continue to deliver quality services to our community.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cllr Dix has also questioned the productivity of those working from home, and said some residents are finding it difficult getting through to an officer. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

By BBC LDRS ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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