September 19 2014 Latest news:
Story by: JOHN ELWORTHY
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Fenland Hall could be sold for development and the district council move their headquarters to nearby county council owned Hereward Hall, also in County Road, March.
District councillors have begun visits to Hereward Hall to see if the smaller, but more modern, offices would be suitable.
It would herald a massive change in working arrangements for the district council whose staff would move from a predominantly office based environment to open plan.
Hereward Hall, when it opened 11 years ago, was designed to ensure flexible working with many sharing work stations and county workers only using the offices as and when they needed to.
It supported a county staff of around 112 but mainly in the children and young people’s services, highways and catering services.
However with a recently opened new Fenland HQ in Wisbech, the county council feels it can do without a large base in March.
The financial implications of Fenland now moving there are wrapped in a long running Making Assets Count initiative which has been developed in recent years to allow all public sector buildings to be considered under a new, jointly owned, umbrella group.
Four market town initiatives involving use of public sector buildings were at one time considered but only what is termed the ‘March Town Project’ remains.
Although officials have refused to elaborate further on their options, a report to next week’s county council general purposes committee will provide councillors with more details.
“It has been decided to focus on taking the March Market Town project forward” says a report to the committee.
The county council has looked at bringing its own assets – such as its 13,000 hectare farms estates, offices and park and ride sites- together with fire stations, police stations, swimming pools, factory units and health buildings in a single overall property portfolio.
The scheme began in 2009 with the aim of making more effective use of all public sector assets- irrespective of which public body actually owns them.
Its initial aim was to dispose of 20 per cent of the entire estate and cut running costs of public services by up to 50 per cent, with 20-30 per cent reductions in carbon emissions.
Creating a community hub in Chatteris, for example, was an early success where the library also now delivers both district and county services. Land swops have also happened in Wisbech to deliver new projects.
Initially the Making Assets Count model envisaged four county town projects with a development value of £120million but for now this has been scaled back to just March.