New Wealden HQ at Hailsham on time and budget

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THE move to a single headquarters has been completed by Wealden District Council in a bid to save more than £350,000 per year in running costs and reduce the council’s carbon footprint.

Wealden’s Vicarage Lane office in Hailsham has been refurbished and freed up most of the Pine Grove building in Crowborough, which may become a Civic Hub with other public services.

Wealden will continue to operate a Customer Help Point in Crowborough.

Cllr Bob Standley, district council leader, said Vicarage Lane was completed on time and budget and at no additional cost to the council tax payer.

“It makes no sense for councils to spend more than they need to on maintaining offices when resources should be directed to front line services,” he said.

“By operating from one refurbished office and enabling staff to use desk space more efficiently, we will be saving over £350,000 every year. I am grateful to the way council staff are embracing changed working practises to enable us to achieve these efficiencies.

“We have also refurbished and added a new roof to Hailsham community hall which, as the Civic Community Hall, will now be used for public functions and meetings.

“In 2010 Wealden District Council agreed to let the land at Pine Grove for a peppercorn rent to establish Crowborough’s new Community Centre.

“At a time of national austerity, both projects have been a welcome boost to local economic activity.”

The refurbished offices in Hailsham opened to the public on August 6. Councillors Bob Standley and Graham Wells, who oversaw the project, were on hand to welcome visitors to the new Customer Help Point.

Pedestrian access to the Customer Help Point and the Civic Community Hall is now from the car park in front of Hailsham’s Freedom Leisure Centre.

The refurbishment includes a passive ventilation system, avoiding the need for costly air conditioning in the open plan office space. The array of photovoltaic panels installed on building’s roof and air source heat pumps will further reduce energy costs.

The refurbishment is being paid for through capital receipts, including the sale of land at Pine Grove, and cash balances held by the council.