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Councillor's plea to change name of City of York Council new headquarters
THE historic building which is to become York’s new £32 million council headquarters is to keep its current name – despite calls for a leading councillor for it to be given a new title.
City of York Council will move into its state-of-the-art civic base at West Offices, in Station Rise – a former railway station – in March through a project which the authority says will save £17 million over the next 25 years, as its accommodation portfolio is cut from 17 buildings around the city to only two.
Work on the scheme is nearing completion, with the building including the council’s customer centre. It has now been confirmed the HQ will continue to be known as West Offices in order to respect its history and the role it once played as a rail hub.
However, Coun Ian Gillies, who leads the authority’s Conservative group, has written to its chief executive Kersten England saying he believes the West Offices name should be consigned to history and the HQ should instead have a title reflecting its civic status.
He said: “It is important, as far as I am concerned, for the council to ‘own’ the building, and in order to do that, we need to delete the West Offices label. This has railway connections and while the history needs to be respected, we need to move on. The West Offices name is now history – we do not have North, East or South Offices, so it is the start of a new era and we should take the opportunity for the future.”
Coun Gillies said he had given some thought to an “appropriate name” for the new HQ, and said: “I cannot get away from ‘City Hall’. It says everything regarding the function with the walls of the headquarters, and it is simply and relevant. I have canvassed thoughts among those both within the authority and in the city, and nobody has come up with anything better.”
Coun Julie Gunnell, cabinet member for corporate services, said continuing the West Offices name would “reflect the building's historic links to the city's long-standing connection with the rail industry”, adding that the authority was “excited” at the prospect of starting its move into the new HQ from the start of next month.
The move will be completed in March and Coun Gunnell said it would mean “more efficient and joined-up” services for residents.
The keys to the HQ were handed over to the council, which says the project will be completed within budget, last month. West Offices’s transformation has been taking shape over the last 20 months, being led by York-based S Harrison Developments and Buccleuch Property with building work being carried out by Miller Construction.