Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Knowle: relocation... costs of borrowing...?

This is the question posed this evening - at the full District Council session - by Barry Sangster, Sidmouth resident.

Mr Chairman,
EDDC is proposing to borrow £4.8 million to finance the office relocation.
What is the budgeted cost of servicing this loan?

The Chairman of the Council could not provide a figure but promised to reply in writing, copying in all Councillors.

The Leader had referred to the sum at the full Council meeting of 24th July, although this was not minuted:

In reply to issues raised, the Leader said that the report on the proposed office relocation had been debated in the public part of the Cabinet meeting on 17 July 2013 and the report had included options and figures.

The Leader was in fact referring to a report given by the Deputy CEO to the Cabinet on 17th July:

EDDC Office Accommodation – key decision 
 Richard Cohen, Deputy Chief Executive presented his report on options to address the Council’s future accommodation requirements. Since the Development Management Committee (1 March 2013) had refused the application for alternative use of the Knowle site, work had continued on the viability analysis of various options: 
 Remaining at the Knowle in a reconfigured form 
 Honiton options 
 Relocation to Cranbrook 
 Other sites in the district 
The viability analysis identified that remaining at the Knowle site was not a sustainable option as the ‘outdated’ offices were not fit for purpose and costly to run. 
The report included the Council’s continued commitment to 
 providing fit for purpose and functional office accommodation that placed no extra burden on the East Devon tax-payer, and, 
 to maintaining a significant presence in Exmouth. 
The option to move would use capital receipts from the sale of the Knowle and, if required, prudential borrowing up to a maximum of £4.8M (the calculated savings on running costs over the 20 years following the move). 

Although the context given has been disputed:

Predictably, last night’s [24th July]Full Council meeting approved the Cabinet’s decision to move EDDC’s HQ from the Knowle by 36 votes to 7.
Ex-Chairman of the Council, long-serving Member, Peter Halse, had criticised the leadership’s proposals for relocating the District Council headquarters as “not properly costed” and “very risky”.
In a further hostage to fortune the Leader added that the move would “not cost council-tax payers an additional penny” – though he did concede that EDDC was ready to borrow over £4 million to fund the move.
Knowle Move Rubber-Stamped as Diviani slates “Tory” Government | Sidmouth Independent News

Finally, what Cllr Twiss cannot dispute is EDDC’s proposal to borrow £4.8million in order to finance an unnecessary move that council tax payers were promised would be cost neutral.
Sensible move? - Letters - Sidmouth Herald

See also: Futures Forum: Knowle relocation: SOS and District Council positions
Futures Forum: Knowle: Freedom of Information requests: Relocation Working Parties: latest response from District Council
Futures Forum: Knowle: Freedom of Information requests: Relocation Working Parties
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation: District Council challenged again
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation: stakeholder event.......................... District Council view: FAQs

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