From the Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Local Government
Kemp Welcomes WSF Report on Rationalisation of Council Buildings
Cllr Richard Kemp, the Vice Chair of the LGA and Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Local Government has welcomed a report being launched today by the Westminster Sustainable Business Forum, “Leaner and Greener” which calls for councils to rationalise their buildings and cut out waste.
Without agreeing with all the detail in this report he welcomed the broad thrust of the arguments within it and urged all councils who have not already done so to follow the examples of the five councils quoted in the report and many who have already completed asset management implementation to save money by making better use of council buildings.
This report, however, poses three questions for Eric Pickles who will be helping to launch the report:
- If he is in favour of this report why did he allow one of his Ministers, Bob Neill, to attack Newham Council before Christmas for undertaking a major review of its premises which has enabled it to move from 26 buildings to one in a move where the capital cost will be paid for in 8 years?
- As he is front loading the cuts to council’s budgets and making us take the biggest cuts in government spending of any sector where are we supposed to get the necessary capital from to implement this activity?
- The big savings will be made not by just rationalizing council buildings but by rationalising all public buildings within an area with much more joint use. Why is the concept of community budgeting which would deliver savings of 10-20% in the costs of local service delivery moving at a snails pace across most of the Ministries in Whitehall including his own?
Details of the report and launch can be obtained from www.policyconnect.org.uk/wsbf
Cllr Kemp can be contacted on 07885 626913 or 0207 664 3354
Designer lights at £111m office of Newham Council
Ed Davey BBC News, London
A council in east London spent more than £111m on one office block, including more than £1,800 on individual designer lights, an investigation has revealed.
In October the BBC discovered Newham Council spent £18.7m refurbishing its new back office, called Building 1000.
But documents released after a Freedom of Information request now show the total cost including purchase price and stamp duty was another £92m on top of that.
During the project bosses spent almost £10,000 on five designer light fittings – at a cost of £1,853 each.
The final £111.5m cost of the building was almost a third of the cost of Arsenal’s 60,000-seater Emirates Stadium.
Newham’s justification that this vanity makeover was part of an efficiency drive is laughable”
End Quote Bob Neill MP Local Government Minister
BBC research shows the £18.7m refurbishment is nearly two thirds of the money spent by every other London council combined on headquarters refurbishment over three years.
Local Government Minister Bob Neill said: “Such monumental waste is scandalous.
“Newham’s justification that this vanity makeover was part of an efficiency drive is even more laughable now it emerges they spent nearly two thousand pounds on designer lights.
“How one of the poorest boroughs in the country managed to spend £111m on their offices is beyond my comprehension.”
A Newham Council spokesman said: “Moving from 26 different locations to one at Newham Dockside will already have saved us £12m by next March as part of a £68m savings package over three years.
“This council expects to save almost £140m in total by the end of 2014.
“This move has helped to achieve the lowest council tax in outer London and there has been 0% increase for two years.”
Each year Newham Council receives more than £100m extra from the government than the average London council because of deprivation.