Tuesday, 25 February 2014

District Council meets to consider issue of relocating from Knowle to Skypark ... Weds 26th February

The final motion to be considered at tomorrow night's full Council meeting 
Better than TV … the EDDC full council meeting, Wednesday 26 February 2014 | Sidmouth Independent News
concerns the highly contentious relocation project:

13 Motion 4 – Office relocation

"This Council notes the concerns expressed by some Councillors of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 30 January 2014 about the Knowle relocation project, and their particular concerns about the increasing cost of the project, and the lack of detail provided to justify the inclusion of a further sum of £200,000 in the capital budget for the 2014/15 financial year, and the inclusion of a further sum of £200,000 in the capital budget for 2015/16.

The Council also notes the recommendation of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 30 January that a professional independent survey of the Council offices be allowed to be undertaken by someone not employed by the Council. The cost of the survey was not to be met by the Council.

The Council regrets the decision taken by the Cabinet on 5 February to press ahead with the project and to seek approval for relocation of the EDDC offices to Skypark This Council agrees to defer a decision on support for the principle of a relocation option until such time as a professional independent survey (the cost of which is not to be met by the Council) is undertaken by someone not employed by the Council”.

Proposed by Claire Wright, seconded by Ben Ingham and supported by Susie Bond, Trevor Cope and Roger Giles


See also:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: "Committee members agreed by eight votes to none, with four abstentions, that a motion would go to cabinet recommending a professional survey of the building be carried out – not undertaken by EDDC."
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: moving to Skypark: £1 million

From the East Devon Alliance today:


Some Councils decide to move with good reason, and clear cost-savings. East Devon District Council’s plan to relocate to newbuild offices at the faltering Skypark, has no such certainty.

So tomorrow’s Full Council meeting will hear vigorous calls from Councillors and the public, for more complete information about relocation costs and how they were arrived at. (In fact, EDDC’s own Overview and Scrutiny Committee recently voted with a two-third’s majority, and no objections, to ask for precisely that). The necessity for the move has also been called into question.

Despite a Councillor’s mention to an EDA member this evening that nothing is set in stone, the Cabinet seems to be feverishly pursuing the purchase of land for new offices at Skypark. The Full Council will be asked to approve £1,000,000 for this purpose, tomorrow evening (6.30pm at Knowle, Sidmouth). £350,000 (not including officer time) has already been spent, and an additional budget of £800,000 (over two years) has also been set aside just for preparing the move.

Councils on the move. | East Devon Alliance

From yesterday's Western Morning News:

Councils look for new homes as Government cuts bite

By Western Morning News | Posted: February 24, 2014

A Devon council is looking to downsize and abandon its former home as it struggles to cope with deep budget cuts, which will see theatres grants slashed and staff numbers reduced.

North Devon District Council is to vote on a proposal to quit its Civic Centre base in Barnstaple at a meeting to sign off a budget reduction of £1.14million for the next financial year. Council leaders believe giving up the eight-storey, 1960s concrete block, which it leases from the county council, and moving staff to smaller office building will help plug a £2million shortfall.

Across the county, East Devon District Council is also set to consider a similar but much more controversial plan to sell its historic headquarters at the Knowle, in Sidmouth. The Tory council wants to buy a £1million plot at the new Exeter Skypark and eventually move to a new, purpose-built office building.

Brian Greenslade, a Liberal Democrat who leads North Devon council in coalition with independents, said relocating to Brynsworthy, Lynton House and the museum will save £300,000 a year, starting in 2015/16, and allow officials to reduce annual spending to around £10million. 
Mr Greenslade said he will be asking for support for a resolution to approve the relocation at the full council meeting, so there is a “democratic decision on the statute book”.

A meeting of East Devon District Council also on Wednesday evening will consider cabinet plans to relocate, a process which has already cost the authority £365,000, including a failure to obtain approval to redevelop the Knowle from its planning committee.

Independent councillor Claire Wright has submitted a motion to try and block the move by deferring a decision to allow an independent assessment of the state of the buildings.

Councils look for new homes as Government cuts bite | Western Morning News

A useful overview of the issues:
Knowle Watch | Save Our Sidmouth

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