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Reference No:

Cabinet Member Report

Cabinet Member: Date: Classification: Title of Report: Report of: Wards involved: Policy context: Financial summary:

Cabinet Member for Finance and Support Services 4 August 2006 For General Release Community Protection Office Move Director of Property and Strategic Projects All Efficient use of assets contributing to quality services at an affordable cost. Expenditure of £600k is recommended as a result of this report. All further expenditure shall the subject of further approval in due course. Derek Barnden Telephone: 020 7641 2694 e-mail: dbarnden@westminster.gov.uk

Report Author: Contact details

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Summary The future of Council House is to be the subject of a detailed Office Strategy report to Cabinet in the Autumn. This report will set out the business case for retaining and refurbishing the building. Work on this report is close to completion. It is clear at the outset that staying in Council House without major investment is not a realistic option and, given its present state, it is desirable that the Annexe in particular is vacated before next winter. The largest user of the building is the Community Protection department. Staff in this department have been expecting to move since before last winter, when significant problems with heating were encountered. Circumstances have arisen, given other moves taking place, and the WorkSmart Programme, that have freed up enough space for Community Protection to move to City Hall. The cost is justified by the saving that will be achieved by vacating part of Council House, although not in itself achieving normal spend-to save target criteria. This move forms part of a three-step strategy, which also includes the roll-out of Flexible Location Working as part of the WorkSmart Programme, and the wider Office Accommodation Strategy, for consideration in the autumn. Each of the three steps will be recommended based on an individual business case with no double-counting. The WorkSmart Business case for Flexible Location Working roll-out in City Hall and Frampton Street / Lisson Grove is based on a 4-6 floor saving in City Hall. The office strategy will be choice between investment in, or sale of, Council House, and is likely to be based on a saving of the order of a further 4 floors. Either option will result in more of Council House being vacated in due course which will increase the amount of the saving and reduce the pay-back period. Recommendations It is recommended that £600k funding required for the move, and replace essential furniture, be released from monies set aside for the Council House Scheme in the capital programme. This will cater for staff needs, ensure continuity of service and keep options open for further imminent initiatives. Background Council House and the adjacent Annexe housing the Library were both built in the 1920’s and 1930’s. They have never undergone major capital investment other than the later construction of the part incorporating the Council Chamber. As offices they are obsolescent with inefficient space usage, poor flexibility, life expired building services, austere uninviting public entrances, and unacceptable disabled access. The structure, claddings and services are all in
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Flexible Working Cabinet Member Report

need of major repair and renewal. In view of the uncertainty of the long-term future of the buildings, capital expenditure has been restricted in recent years. 3.3 The plant in the building is nearing and in some cases beyond the end of its useful life. This is especially the case in the Annexe, where heating and other pipework buried in the main walls is so corroded that leaks are a constant threat. For much of last winter this building was kept operational by the use of a generator, temporary cabling and portable heaters. This was a considerable inconvenience for library customers and other building users. The systems in the main building are more reliable although the comfort cooling in the council chamber is no longer operational. There is no cooling in the rest of the building. Council House is increasingly the source of staff stress and trade union unrest. If it were to remain in use in its current format, expenditure of close to £5m would be required within five years, to maintain the buildings in safe and compliant operational use. There is no provision for this in the current capital programme. Furthermore such expenditure would generate negligible savings, and thereby could not qualify as a spend to save proposal. For some time the building has struggled to meet minimum health and safety standards and does not satisfactorily address disability access standards. Fundamentally a choice must be made between: vacating and selling Council House and the Annexe, or vacating the building for refurbishment and remodelling, prior to reoccupation. Continuing in occupation on the current basis is not an option. £2.32m of works have been identified against Council house in the current condition survey of which more than £2.0M is in the most urgent category. There is no provision in the Capital programme for any of these works, some of this work, including repairs to the heating system, would be essential if full occupation were to be maintained. In the wider office accommodation strategy, two main options exist:   3.8 Dispose of Council House, relying more on accommodation in the south of the city; or Retain and invest in Council House, reducing space use in the south.





These options for the future of Council House involve vacating and selling the building, or vacating refurbishing and re-occupying the building. Remaining in the building without major investment is not an option. In the latter option a partial vacation is sufficient because the remaining services including the library can move within the site as the phased refurbishment takes place. An opportunity to vacate now exists for the following reasons:  The contractors Westminster Accord have moved to Tachbrook Street, and Vertex are in the process of moving to Dingwall. These moves enable the majority of the 4th and 5th floors at City Hall to be vacated. The remaining space will become available when the new bullion contract is let. Therefore


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the opportunity exists to move most of Community Protection in to City Hall in late September, provided financial approval is obtained now, and preparatory actions commence.  The space available in City Hall is smaller than that currently occupied be the services. This is achievable because some staff will be able to work flexibly. Roll-out of Flexible Location Working will be limited at this stage as EDRM and mobile working solutions are not yet in place but gains can still be made through hot-desking and home-working.


We are now in a position to specify the furniture that will be used in the roll-out of Flexible Location Working (FLoW) so can equip Community Protection with this now and save a second investment later when they roll-out flexible working across the whole department and they move higher up in the building. A double-move is necessary as it is likely we will vacate floors through FLoW space savings but other departments will not be able to move up before the winter as the roll-out of FloW has not yet started.due to the same constraints. There is therefore no option but to at least partially vacate the building and it is proposed to do so this autumn, moving Community Protection to City Hall at a cost in the order of £600k, including the cost of relocations within the building to vacate the Annexe entirely. This is justifiable in the light of both possible longer-term plans for the building. It is also justifiable as a spend to save proposal, recovering the cost of removals via the savings from reducing the occupied part of the building. The initial saving from vacating the annexe will achieve a payback within six years. See appendix A. Clearing the annexe alone will only save £145k per annum net of loss of income. However the decision in the autumn on Office Strategy will result in either investment in the building or a move to clear the rest of the building for the property to be sold. Either will result in increasing savings for non occupation in due course and a quicker payback. These savings will not be double-counted in relation to the business case for WorkSmart ‘FloW’, or the Wider office strategy. All services remaining within the building will be protected throughout. The library is scheduled to move to open plan space under the Council Chamber soon after Community Protection have vacated that space. These moves will enable the Council House Annexe to be vacated before the worst of next winter and are thereby highly recommended. Legal Implications There are no particular legal implications at this stage, although clearly various legal issues will arise and be addressed as the matters raised in the report are progressed





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Financial Implications The capital cost of the move is £600,000. There is no provision for this in the Capital Programme. The move will save £28,000 in running costs in 2006-07, with a full year cost saving of £112,000 from 2007-08 onwards. The payback period on the investment equates to just under 6 years, which would be reduced by opportunity cost savings should the further potential capital costs mentioned in the report have been necessary if occupation of Council House continued. The savings of £28,000 in 2006-07 and £112,000 from 2007-08 onwards are not currently built into the existing business plans.

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Staffing Implications All the issues covered in the report relating to workplace changes for Community Protection, including where appropriate new ways of working, have been the subject of regular discussion at the Community Protection Moves group. This group has met monthly to plan all aspects of the moves, meeting regularly for more than a year. Trade unions are represented on the Moves Group. If approvals of further aspects of the moves processes are required, these will be subject to a change management process involving staff and trade union consultation at appropriate stages. Business Plan Implications There are no performance plan implications at this stage. Ward – member consultation A meeting has taken place with two of the members for the ward in which Council House is situated, concerning the Community Protection Move, the third ward Councillor was unable to attend at the arranged time. In general terms, the options for the future of Council House were also covered at this meeting. Further consultation will be undertaken as part of the roll-out of office strategy, if approved. Crime and Disorder Act There are no crime and disorder implications. The purpose of the move is to improve accommodation for Community protection and thereby safeguard the service. Health and Safety Issues All proposals having health and safety implications, have been discussed at the Community Protection Moves Group, with Trade unions represented. If further approvals are required are subject to further approvals


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Co-operation with Health Authorities Health Service occupation of part of Council House, and possible associated moves, are under discussion with the Westminster Primary Care Trust. There are no other implications as regards Health Authorities. Human Rights Act 1998 The report has no Human Rights implications. Equality Implications The report includes outline proposals which will, if approved, will be a first step to improving disability access issues at one of the Council’s major public buildings. Detailed assessment of the approach to disability access will be covered in future reports. There are no other equalities implications. Public Consultation No public consultation is envisaged at this stage, except as part of the later action to move Marylebone Library within the building.

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Conclusions and Reason for Decisions The majority of the Community Protection department is currently based at Council House. For Community Protection, however, another winter in the building would be unacceptable for staff and business continuity purposes. This move is timely as it will avoid leaving office space at City Hall empty following Vertex’s move to Dingwall. Furthermore, the furniture and any IT equipment needed will be reused once the department moves to flexible working. The payback initially to the investment in the move would be insufficient to pay back under current spend-to save criteria. However some unbudgeted expenditure will be avoided, and other initiatives in the pipeline will enhance the payback of this action. Any enhanced payback will not be double-counted in relation to the business case for WorkSmart or the broader Office Strategy. Background Papers No background papers were used in the preparation of this report.



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For completion by Cabinet Member Declaration of Interest  I have no interest to declare in respect of this report Signed ……………………………. Date ……………………………… NAME:  I have to declare an interest State nature of interest ……..…………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………….. Signed ……………………………. Date ………………………………… NAME:

(N.B: If you have an interest you should seek advice as to whether it is appropriate to make a decision in relation to this matter.) For the reasons set out above, I agree the recommendation(s) in the report entitled Community Protection Office Move and reject any alternative options which are referred to but not recommended. Signed ……………………………………………… Cabinet Member for ………………………………. Date …………………………………………………

If you have any additional comment which you would want actioned in connection with your decision you should discuss this with the report author and then set out your comment below before the report and this pro-forma is returned to the Secretariat for processing. Additional comment: ………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………. ………………………………………………………………………………………….

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NOTE: If you do not wish to approve the recommendations, or wish to make an alternative decision, it is important that you consult the report author, the Director of Legal and Administrative Services, the Acting Director of Finance and, if there are staffing implications, the Head of Human Resources (or their representatives) so that (1) you can be made aware of any further relevant considerations that you should take into account before making the decision and (2) your reasons for the decision can be properly identified and recorded, as required by law.

Note to Cabinet Member: Your decision will now be published and copied to the Members of the relevant Overview & Scrutiny Committee. If the decision falls within the criteria for call-in, it will not be implemented until five working days have elapsed from publication to allow the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to decide whether it wishes to call the matter in.

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