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Council in £1.4m furniture spend for new headquarters
YORK’S council chiefs are spending £1.4 million on furniture for their new headquarters.
More than 1,400 staff will move into West Offices in Station Rise in March once work on the historic building, which was once a railway station and has undergone a £32 million conversion is completed.
City of York Council is reducing the number of buildings it occupies from 17 to two – the other being the Hazel Court waste recycling centre. It says this will save £17 million over the next 25 years. It has earmarked £1.5 million to complete West Offices, which will house the authority’s customer contact centre.
Of this, £1.4 million will be used for furniture, with £918,000 in IT costs and £100,000 on audiovisual equipment. The expenditure was confirmed by the Labour-controlled authority following a question tabled by Liberal Democrat councillor Ian Cuthbertson.
The council has also said that, although about 1,440 staff will be based in West Offices, 2,507 seats will be bought, while most of the furniture from its current offices will not be reused because it is “not fit for purpose” at the new HQ. The total cost of the accommodation shake-up, including moving costs, is £43.8 million.
Responding to a question by Lib Dem councillor Ann Reid, Coun Julie Gunnell, cabinet member for corporate services, said the council’s current desks were “too big” for West Offices, while chairs were either “of very poor quality” or not adjustable.
She said: “Meeting-room furniture is also not designed for the spaces we will occupy, which need to be flexible and able to be set out in different styles.
“If we did move our existing furniture into West Offices, we would not be able to fit the same number of people into the building and would have had to retain at least one of our existing buildings, bringing with it an ongoing cost which would quickly exceed the cost of new furniture.”
Coun Gunnell said flexible working practices meant West Offices would not have a “one seat per person arrangement” and seats will also be needed for visitors to the customer centre, other agencies and outside organisations hiring rooms.
A council spokeswoman said all existing computers would be transferred, and audiovisual equipment was aimed at cutting travel costs, while old furniture will be reused or recycled and bringing it into the new HQ from 17 buildings would be more expensive long-term than buying new furniture. The £1.5 million fit-out costs were within the scheme’s original budget.