Posted: Fri 28th Jul 2023

Council to Spend £100k on Refurbishments and Settlement with Police over Pontypool HQ Dispute /
This article is old - Published: Friday, Jul 28th, 2023

A COUNCIL is using nearly £100,000 from its reserves on alterations and new furniture for its recently refurbished headquarters – and to settle a long running dispute with Gwent Police. 
The cash will be splashed on new computers and furniture at Torfaen council’s Civic Centre in Pontypool after a meeting area on the third floor of the building wasn’t being used as expected following the redesign of the base. 
But the council is also having to make a payment to Gwent Police to settle a claim for nearly a quarter of a million pounds related to its former use of Pontypool Police Station, which is next to the Civic Centre building. 
The force had claimed the local authority should pay it approximately £240,000 for “dilapidation” after the council ended its lease of Pontypool Police Station in August 2021. 
But the figure was disputed by the council and following negotations it has agreed it will pay the force just £56,111.07, plus VAT. 
The use of £97,231 from the reserves to pay the police and fund the alterations at the Civic Centre has been approved by the Labour-controlled council’s cabinet member for finance Sue Morgan.  
In a report for the councillor the authority’s director of corporate services Jason Lewis wrote: “The council disputed this claim and has been in negotiations with Gwent Police since then. Following protracted negotiations, the council and Gwent Police have settled on the sum.” 
His report has also covered the refurbishment at the Civic Centre that has been required despite a “transformation” of the building, including a “redesign and refurbishment as a hybrid workstyle enabling workplace” having been “delivered on time and within budget”.  
That included revamping the third floor of the building as “a collaborative space for teams to meet and work together” but the idea flopped and hasn’t caught on with staff who have shunned the shared workspace. 
Mr Lewis said in his report it “has not been used as intensively as it was envisaged” and that “the layout has proved unpopular for a number of reasons.” 
However the council says there is demand for additional ‘Directorate Workdays’ that are presently held on the fifth floor on a rota basis, and with some minor alterations to create “bookable enclosed spaces” it is believed the days could be staged on the third floor. 
That will require 58 new monitors and docking stations, 20 operator chairs, 18 low level soft chairs and three coffee tables for the “collaborative rooms” at a total cost, including the alterations, of £28,000. 
A new security card entry system is also required at the Civic Centre as the current swipe card system is “becoming obsolete and its maintenance will no longer be supported by its provider” and there are security concerns related to its operation. 
The cost of equipment to support the system and ongoing maintenance costs will be covered by existing budgets but £13,120 is required to cover the installation of new card readers, the supply of new ID cards and a card printer which the council hadn’t budgeted for. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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