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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 17/05/2005
Office Accommodation and Related Matters - Update



Summary & Purpose
This paper is to advise the Executive of some proposed changes to office accommodation and to seek endorsement to those changes.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Positive
N/A
N/A


APPENDIX I
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE – 17TH MAY 2005



Title:
Office Accommodation and Related Matters - Update

[Wards Affected: All]


Summary and purpose:

This paper is to advise the Executive of some proposed changes to office accommodation and to seek endorsement to those changes.



Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):

Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe, Healthy and Active Communities
Local Economy
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Positive
N/A
N/A

The proposals contained in this report have an indirect and generally remote impact on the community, although the proposal to create additional meeting rooms in the Council Offices will improve access to the Council Offices for those who have their mobility limited in some way.

E-Government implications:

There are no direct e-government implications

Resource and legal implications:

The resource implications are as set out in the report. All of the costs indicated will be met from existing 2005/06 budgets. Additional financial information will be made available at the meeting if appropriate.





Introduction

1. The need for this report is as a direct consequence of the increased numbers (8 in total) of staff that are soon to be introduced into the Planning and Development Department all of which are being funded from the Planning Delivery Grant for 2005/06.

2. As staff numbers in that Department have increased over recent years in response to an increasing number of planning applications and related work, so the accommodation for staff has become increasingly tight. There is now no longer capacity for accommodating more staff without a more radical and costly change in office accommodation use (it is recognised that an overall accommodation review is outstanding but it has been agreed that no work on this can reasonably progress before the future of the Housing service is agreed).

Options to Meet the new needs

Vacant Office Accommodation in Farnham (The Locality Office and/or Montrose House)

3. This has been rejected on the grounds that the operational needs of the Planning and Development Department would be unreasonably compromised if some staff were based in a remote location. Efforts to identify other Waverley services that could reasonably decant to Farnham have resulted in the conclusion that there is not a discrete group of staff that could reasonably fit the limited space available.

Portakabin on the Grass Area in Front of the Council Offices

4. Apart from the inconvenience, this is an expensive option. The hire cost is estimated as 25,000 with no asset at the end of the hire period.

Returning the Staff Rest Room to office space

5. The Staff Rest Room is located on the ground floor and its size is such that it would accommodate some eight members of staff. Although services would need to be added (I.T. and telephone points), no substantial alterations would be required. This is the preferred option.

Consequences

Employee Relations Consequences

6. Staff Side, on behalf of Waverley staff, although understanding the accommodation needs, will not agree to relinquish this facility. There is a precedent for such an action. However, the Council, as an employer, needs to be mindful of its statutory responsibility, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure, amongst other things, the provision and maintenance of a working environment for employees that is, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe, without risks to health and adequate as regards facilities and arrangements for their welfare at work. Therefore, your officers consider it necessary to provide an alternative staff rest area. There are limited options available at the Council Offices for this purpose but the existing Committee Room 2, although not ideal, could be adapted to serve this purpose


7. As a minimum measure, to ensure that such an action, if agreed, does not create unnecessary employee relations difficulties, Committee Room 2 would need to be upgraded to ensure that the facilities in the existing accommodation are replicated.

8. The commitment would have to be that this would be for a temporary period, probably related to the transfer of housing services, after which the present facility, or a alternative but similar facility, would be returned to staff use.

Meeting the need for Accessible Meeting Rooms

9. Committee Room 2 is used regularly for both meetings and training events and is accessible to people who have limited mobility. This facility would need to be replaced in some way. Two immediate options are available: -

The Council Offices main meeting rooms are available for booking using an electronic booking system. It is proposed that all meeting rooms, however small, within departmental accommodation should be included on this booking system. Most of these rooms are fully accessible but they are not public meeting rooms; and The Room over the Godalming CAB.
As part of the budget setting for 2005/06 and in order to make savings on the General Fund, members proposed that the Council should no longer hire the first floor premises and therefore save the 11,000 per annum. However, officers advised that, should Waverley withdraw, it was entirely probable that Godalming CAB’s finances would be so undermined that they would have to consider closure. In light of this advice, it was reported, as part of the budget setting process:

In considering the proposal, members of the Executive noted the potential effects on the CAB, who they consider an extremely valued partner to the Council, and asked officers to work with the CAB to find an alternative tenant to avoid the consequences indicated. Members noted that it might not therefore be possible to achieve the full saving in 2005/06.

Godalming CAB has since been advised of the Council’s wish to withdraw from the arrangement to hire the first floor at their Queen Street premises.

Godalming CAB replied, as anticipated, that should Waverley withdraw its funding for the first floor, Godalming CAB is unlikely to be able to survive financially and they would have to take independent advice on whether they should close down.

Mindful of the Executive’s views outlined in the bold paragraph above, given that these premises are available under the present arrangement only until November 2005, Waverley could continue to use the facility until that date at a cost of 8 months @ 917 = 7,333


10. As a longer-term solution, the attention of the Executive is drawn to a proposal to create new Committee Room(s) along the link corridor by building over the flat roof of the Bridge Street entrance. This proposal, which has been discussed, informally, with relevant Members of the Executive, was formulated primarily to meet the accessibility requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA), i.e. the Council’s main committee room (Committee Room 1) is not accessible to people whose mobility is restricted.

11. The estimated cost of such work, 80,000, could be met, in part, from funding for DDA adaptations with the balance being funded from the Central Offices Maintenance and Improvements budget.

Staff Car Parking

12. As Members of the executive who are also Members of the Joint Negotiating Committee are aware, staff car parking is a current and significant employee relations matter. The addition of eight new members of staff will only serve to make a difficult position worse. Mainly as identified in the Waverley (Company) Transport Plan, actions continue to be promoted to help relieve the car parking pressures. Outstanding is the review of the flexible working scheme which will include the possibility of introducing a ‘nine day fortnight’ working arrangement. This will be the subject of a future report to the Executive but, otherwise, there are no immediate alternative car parking arrangements that can be made for staff.

Impact of the Housing Options Outcome

13. Any office accommodation changes needs to be considered in the light of the potential move of substantial numbers of staff out of the Council Offices building. The issues addressed in this report require an immediate resolution. It is considered that any improvements in accommodation to meet those issues will have a positive impact of the asset that is the Council Offices building

Conclusion

14. With reluctance, it is your officers’ advice that returning the current Staff Rest Room to office accommodation is unavoidable.

Recommendation

It is recommended that the Executive:-

1. endorses the proposal to return the existing Staff Rest Room to office use and for alternative (temporary) accommodation be provided for staff use;

2. in the absence of any, more appropriate, alternative, it be agreed that the existing Committee Room 2 be made available as a Staff Rest Room;

3. to compensate for the loss of this meeting room:-
4. notes the consequential concerns about the additional pressures on staff car parking which will be the subject of further consultation with Staff Side representatives



Background Papers (CEx)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.



CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Richard Wood Telephone: 01483 523387.

E-mail: rwood@waverley.gov.uk



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