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Public service 'village' to be put together at council offices

Tuesday, 22nd February 2011.

A mini public service village is to be created at the council offices in Lower Downs Slade in Haverhill under plans being drawn up by the county and borough councils.

Both councils' functions would be carried out from the building, allowing the costs to be shared, while Suffolk County Council's Camps Road offices could be disposed of.

Space would be included for voluntary organisations as well, preserving the current home of Haverhill Association of Voluntary Organisations (HAVO) and Haverhill Volunteer Centre.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council's cabinet agreed to push forward with the scheme at its meeting last week, and both authorities are expected to give it the official go-ahead in March.

The model being followed is that of West Suffolk House in Bury St Edmunds.

A report to the cabinet meeting said: "The council offices, Haverhill, could be more effectively used if they are retained as the customer hub for public services at Haverhill, providing a single point of contact solution for both the public sector and a range of complementary voluntary services."

Public sector organisations had been taking part in a county-wide Single Public Sector Estate (SPSE) study which seeks to identify under-used property and consolidate space requirements across the sector.

During the feasibility stage for the Haverhill SPSE pilot project, five options were considered to provide accommodation for service delivery in Haverhill.

This included buildings owned and leased by the borough council, the county council, the police, the primary care trust and Jobcentre Plus.

The conclusions of the pilot project envisaged that shared accommodation would take up to five years to achieve.

Taking this length of time might mean that a shared building would not be possible, so the borough and county councils are going it alone to begin with, although space will be available for a third organisation in the future.

The council offices need work estimated at over 330,000 over the next five years, and if nothing is done that would all fall on the borough council.

Under the new scheme, ownership of the offices would be shared between the borough and county councils, and revenue and capital costs of refurbishing, running and repairing the building be split 50-50.

The county council would explore the potential to realise value from the Camps Road offices(formerly the police station), when the site was vacated, and would relocate some or all county council staff from its leased Sudbury offices.

Work would start in March and be completed by September, with county council staff moving into the upstairs of Lower Downs Slade then.

Haverhill Online News

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