Derby City Council

Council House: A plan with many purposes – but not Piccadilly Circus?

The arrangement with the Department of Work and Pensions to bring the 2 Job Centres into the Council House sounds, on the face of it, like a great idea. The layout and the management of the increased numbers of people walking in and out, and waiting around will need to be carefully thought through. It will generate £0.5m income each year. Although this sounds a lot, it is only 0.2% of the Council’s overall budget each year.

The transfer of the Central Library claims to generate a saving of £128k pa which would be barely measurable by the Council’s Finance team. This relies on a number of risky assumptions. It will deliver a 50% reduction in floor space, and book availability.

Additionally £0.658m is also being spent on:

1 Relocating the Accessible meeting room.

The report suggests that the room was originally built in a way that was not entirely fit for purpose:

“However, the feedback from our customers and employees who use this room has generally been negative. The main issues with the room are:

 the irregular shape of the room is not suitable for hearing loops and the conduction
of sound
 the room has a combination of solid walls, glass and a partition wall that allows
noise to be heard from the customer service area
 despite the size of the room it has presented challenges for individuals in mobility
scooters, because of the access into the room and the layout of the furniture
 the room has a different aesthetic to other public meeting rooms in the building”.

2 Relocation on interview room

“The creation of a library space on the ground floor of the Council House (subject to separate Cabinet approval), will also result in losing 3 of the current customer interview rooms. The proposal is that the customer interview rooms are relocated into the Customer Service area creating 4 new meeting rooms”

As this cost is a consequence of the library move then this should have been added to the £0.86m budget. It’s not clear why this has been excluded.

3 Improved Security

“Operational feedback from our Facilities Management Team and recommendations from the Home Office have indicated where additional improvements need to be made in the building to ensure the security for both our customers and employees.

These security measures will also include upgrading facilities in our post room to meet the existing guidance from the Home Office and the Health and Safety Executive”.

Comment

The Cabinet report does not comment on the increased footfall in in the Council Offices and how this will be managed. We must trust that those people who have designed the layout have considered the new usage levels, waiting areas, noise etc and that it will retain the overall atmosphere of a professional environment AND a library and not become like “Piccadilly Circus”

4 replies »

  1. Ask the Fostering & Adoption team thier opinion of thier new allocated space, 50% fewer desks when there were already too few.

    • Staff in the council house have the technology to work at home or elsewhere in the city, they don’t need a desk in the council house

      • My understanding is that in theory, that’s true, but in practice, terribly flawed. When your staff meetings, case meetings, client meetings etc are all at the council house, then there’s little point commuting home between meetings, you’d need a desk to work at. Not to mention the ‘technology’ provided for home use is woefully inadequate.

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