A plan for fewer, more efficient public buildings in South Tyneside is well underway and making positive change for the people of South Tyneside Council.
The property strategy which started in 2013 has already seen major investment in frontline service buildings for residents, with environmental and energy-efficiency improvements funded by the sale of old buildings which were expensive to run or no longer met residents’ needs.
The Council’s property strategy will ensure services delivered to residents, businesses and visitors are delivered in the most efficient and effective way possible. The strategy involves bringing teams together in key core buildings from sites that are surplus to requirements, in turn saving around £1.5m a year in running and maintenance costs.
The programme, which avoids carbon reduction penalties and brings a major reduction in the Council’s annual maintenance bill, is bringing about an overall reduction in spending as well as preserving some of the Borough’s finest historical assets.
Councillor Ed Malcolm, Lead Member for Resources and Innovation at South Tyneside Council, said: “The Council has already made millions in efficiencies since 2010 by radically changing the way we work as an organisation, whilst protecting and improving the services people rely on. The property strategy forms an important part of the Borough’s ongoing resilience.
“This is a long-term strategy, working with other organisations to identify buildings that no longer meet residents’ needs, using the savings to ensure we retain buildings that are efficient and fit for purpose.
“This approach means we can avoid spending good money on poor quality buildings, as well as improving energy efficiency, cutting maintenance costs and improving services – without any increase in spending.”
The plan has included the development of Hebburn Central which opened its doors last Summer (June 2015) with a six-lane swimming pool, library, leisure facilities, South Tyneside Homes and Northumbria Police presence all under one roof.
Phase 1 of the work to South Shields Town Hall is now complete making it possible to accommodate around 500 additional staff. Many of these staff have been based in other Council buildings that were smaller or more expensive to run.
Work is now underway on the Edwardian Block. These works are predominantly Health & Safety related as well as looking to restore and improve the building to ensure it meets the requirements of its listed status.