Jump to content

How Much! Herefordshire Council Offices Plough Lane


Recommended Posts

I was quite shocked to read the cost for refurbishing the Council offices in Plough Lane Hereford, yet due to cut backs the grass cuts have been reduced and the city looks a mess! 

 

Have a little read through this information which was obtained by one of our members through the freedom of information act. I have also added this information in the grass petition topic. 

 

Dear Sir,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST FOI IAT 7423

Further to previous correspondence, your request for information has now been considered, and the council’s response is set out below:

Q1 Can you please tell me how much has been spent so far since the start and  how much is budgeted for the renovation of the plough lane council offices in Hereford

 

A.    There is a capital budget for refurbishment work of £4m.

 

There is a revenue budget for works falling outside the refurbishment. This budget covers not only the Plough Lane offices but others also. There is a budget for ‘decant’ across all moves not only in connection with Plough Lane but with moves from and to other buildings. This budget is £500,000. £151,000 has been taken from this budget to date.

 

To date we have paid £2,273,124.81. The project is expected to come in on budget.
 

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request or you would like a review of the response provided, please contact me on the contact details given at the top of this letter.

 

Further information is also available from the Information Commissioner at:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF

 

Telephone: 01625 545 745           www.ico.org.uk

Yours faithfully
 

claire jacobs

INFORMATION ACCESS OFFICER

 

FOI IAT 7423 LA Prov 29.05. 14.doc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes....I am a little perplexed at why so many threads have been archived????

 

The "time" has also gone....which I found quite useful!!

 

It amuses me to see what Biomech has posted at three in the morning!!

 

And of course, the mystery as to the whereabouts of 5 pages of comments and links, on the "You Don't Deserve Democracy" thread.....they have all been erased bar 3 or 4!!

 

Colin....is there a gremlin in the system????

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Decant definition:

 

Decanting is a legal definition used to explain the process where residents are required to move from their homes due to reasons 
 
Permanent Decant 
When a resident is moved out of their property and there is no intention to return them to it or the tenant has been moved on a temporary basis and it is agreed by all parties the new property is more suitable for them to remain in. 
 
Temporary Decant 
When a resident is moved out of their property, to enable work on the property to be carried out, with the intention of returning them to the property at the earliest opportunity. 
 
This term is used a lot by Housing Associations.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Flam,

 

I think.....capital budget, is used for big, long term projects....think the new archive building that sort of thing.

 

The revenue budget is money raised by the council, think council tax, parking fines etc.

 

I'm sure another poster will be able to give a more indepth explanation!!

 

No clue about decant budget!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Generally capital budgets attract specific grant monies from government,  which is why councils prefer to knock things down and start again. They build something with a capital grant, spend nothing on maintenance at all for say 25 years, declare it beyond reasonable repair and then apply to government for a grant for a new one. This equally applies to our roads. Of course, during those 25 years, the accounts and council tax collect for repairs and the like, which they are then free to divert to the latest crackpot scheme or senior salary.

 

It’s a very lazy, unattractive, environmentally damaging and and ultimately costly way of doing things.

 

Another example is the ridiculous 'improvements' to King Street - some while ago, a perfectly normal junction was changed, resulting in something which was dangerous, with literally dozens of accidents there. After a while the council could demonstrate to government that this was a dangerous section of road and got a grant to improve it (£0.6m). This they have now done, building a dangerous 'improvement' which in due course will be ripped up again.

 

Lets just that say the construction business does very nicely out of these arrangements ...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes....I am a little perplexed at why so many threads have been archived????

 

The "time" has also gone....which I found quite useful!!

 

It amuses me to see what Biomech has posted at three in the morning!!

 

And of course, the mystery as to the whereabouts of 5 pages of comments and links, on the "You Don't Deserve Democracy" thread.....they have all been erased bar 3 or 4!!

 

Colin....is there a gremlin in the system????

It's my fault I hit archive when I updated the database about a month ago, so some of the old posts got archived, which locks the topic, I managed to unarchive 99% but a few posts are now missing. I am on holiday in Corfu at the moment but I will try and sort it when I get back guys, apologise for any inconvenience 😎

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Corfu eh??

 

Lucky Colin! Hope you're having a great time.......the weather here has been a tad on the wet side!

 

Don't apologise for hitting the wrong button.......look how many errors would occur if I was ever left in charge of button pressing!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Decant definition:

 

Decanting is a legal definition used to explain the process where residents are required to move from their homes due to reasons 
 
Permanent Decant 
When a resident is moved out of their property and there is no intention to return them to it or the tenant has been moved on a temporary basis and it is agreed by all parties the new property is more suitable for them to remain in. 
 
Temporary Decant 
When a resident is moved out of their property, to enable work on the property to be carried out, with the intention of returning them to the property at the earliest opportunity. 
 
This term is used a lot by Housing Associations.

 

 

Decant in the context of the councils's response to Colin's FOI request is the cost of moving offices - they have £0.5m set aside for shuffling around the city as they come up with increasingly ridiculous property strategies. Seems a lot money to pay removal men ...

 

dippyhippy - the £4m is for Plough Lane refurb only. The Shire Hall is a separate cost, I believe in the region of £3m. They have also just taken on and refurbished the old job centre in Bath Street at a cost as yet unknown. As if that were not enough, of course they also now have the old Bulmer lab in Whitecross Road (Nelson House?) which is being re-roofed following a couple of slates blowing off in the bad winter. Cost - £silly. Odd that Plough Lane was originally meant to be the HQ to enable all other buildings to be sold and services centralised. Instead they keep expanding, despite claims of reducing staff levels. Brockington Towers is scheduled to go on sale this year - for lots of housing in the grounds no doubt. Is there any hope they will get the market rate, or will it be a quiet London sale again?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Two Wheels, I didn't think the Shire Hall refurb costs could have been lumped in with this!

 

Much of Plough Lane is still given over to Hoople staff, is it not??

 

I don't suppose they will pay anything towards this....why would they??

 

Yet council staff have now been squeezed into the media building on Bath Street, and from what I am told, not very successfully!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
I wonder how many of our councillors and officers have read this and acted on it?

Extracts taken from "Corruption in UK Local Government" published by Transparency International
 
This report sets out to shed light on this paradox. Our intention is not to prove that corruption exists in local government, nor is it an investigative inquiry into cases of corruption. We deliberately avoid making a judgement on the levels of corruption in local government, as we do not feel the evidence exists to make such a judgement. Rather, we have undertaken an analysis of the institutional robustness and integrity of local government – looking at the safeguards against corruption and the rapid and substantial changes to this regime instituted by the current UK Government.
 
Here, a disturbing picture emerges, and one on which experts and interviewees were agreed. On the one hand, the conditions are present in which corruption is likely to thrive – low levels of transparency, poor external scrutiny, networks of cronyism, reluctance or lack of resource to investigate, outsourcing of public services, significant sums of money at play and perhaps a denial that corruption is an issue at all. On the other hand, the system of checks and balances that previously existed to limit corruption has been eroded or deliberately removed. These changes include the removal of independent public audit of local authorities, the withdrawal of a universal national code of conduct, the reduced capacity of the local press and a reduced potential scope to apply for freedom of information requests. We have identified 16 areas in which we find a marked decline in the robustness of local government to resist corruption.
 
Example: Councils as property owners 
The final area where corruption risks arise in the area of planning concerns instances where local authorities are in the position of judging planning permission applications regarding their own assets. In such cases, there is a risk that they may act in their interests as a property owner rather than as a granting entity. In theory, the Secretary of State should call in such applications for review, and this certainly happens in the case of major big developments. However, smaller cases may slip through the net – for example, where a waste development site is developed on council land and the council is a joint venture owner of the company which holds the contract for managing the waste. It is critical that decisions in such cases are highly transparent and that the rationale behind them is clearly set out, making reference to the dual roles of the council.
 
Doesn't this Council/Fire Authority business fall into this criteria ie "It is critical that decisions in such cases are highly transparent and that the rationale behind them is clearly set out, making reference to the dual roles of the council".
 
Download full report here:
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hereford Times: 16th June 2014 in News By Bill Tanner

 
CASH-strapped and cuts slashed  Herefordshire Council has to pay a six figure sum  to show it offers value for money. The invoice for £164,803 covers the cost of an outside audit of the council’s finances over 2014/15. Another £6,420 covers related grant certificate costs taking the total to £171,223 as included in the council’s 2014/15 budget.
 
This week, the council’s audit and governance committee is due to debate the amount to be paid to Grant Thornton UK LLP for work on financial statements, accounts and value for money conclusions as detailed in the council’s annual audit fee letter.
 
Grant Thornton was appointed as the council’s external auditor by the  Audit Commission, which also set the fee.
 
The requirement to supply accounts for audit that have appropriate working papers means the council and its “arm’s length†contractor Hoople must meet all deadlines outlined in the accounts timetable closure process.
 
Grant Thornton will require management and accounting staff from both the council and Hoople to be available to help locate information and provide explanations so that the account are audited to the expected standard.
 
Oversight of the Hoople contract is the responsibility of the council’s chief finance officer.
 
Three bills of £41,201 in September and December this year and March next year followed by a £41,200 bill in June next year make up the main audit fee.
 
The £6,420 grant certification fee is due in December next year.
 
Work on the audit is underway in March next year to end in September with the council receiving its annual audit letter in October.
 
The main audit fee is the same as last year while the grant certificate cost has come down from £8,420 in 2013/14.
 
In April, as reported by the Hereford Times, cabinet backed the contract for the council’s internal audit services – previously held by KPMG -  going to the South West Audit Partnership (SWAP).
 
Internal audit is essentially a backroom function for the council, assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of operations, the reliability of financial and management reporting, compliance with laws and regulations and the safeguarding of assets.
 
The cost of the council’s contract with SWAP is expected to be around £225k a year.
 
External audit is a separate function.
 
In 2011,  the government confirmed its preference for transferring audits for local public bodies as carried out by the audit commission to the private sector.
 
A year later, the commission confirmed that five year contracts for audit work had been awarded to four private firms with Grant Thornton appointed to Herefordshire Council.

 

See post 4 above. It's a pity the Hereford Times doesn't tell the local ratepayers that they can raise questions concerning the running and management of the council's accounts which the auditor can look into. There must be plenty of questions to ask about where all the money is going.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...
Hereford Times: 17:02 Tuesday 26 August 2014 in News by Bill Tanner

 
HEREFORDSHIRE Council’s “retreat from Brockington†is over.
 
Security staff are now the only presence at the council’s former HQ ahead of its sale.
 
Brockington, on Hafod Road,  Hereford has been the council’s base since its start in 1998. Previously it was the HQ for the former South Herefordshire District Council.
 
The council has shut Brockington down to cut accommodation costs. Staff working there have shifted to the council’s offices at Plough Lane, Blueschool House or the new “civic hub†based around Hereford Shire Hall and Town Hall.
 
Council meetings will now be held at either the Shire Hall or Town Hall.
 
Brockington’s future lies in development options highlighting the potential of the site to prospective buyers.
 
The building is expected to go on the market in October with expressions of interest being handled by the Bristol office of Connells Estate Agents.
 
The council saving us money by spending it on Plough Lane. Maybe Brockington can become a Travellers site, as the council is conducting a survey and looking for new sites.
 
Notice the council has pre-empted planning permission for the fire station on Bath Street.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...