Plans to reduce Lewes District Council’s offices

LEWES District Council may dispose of some of its administrative buildings in a move to improve services and cut costs.

It is considering operating from just two office bases – at Southover House, in Lewes, and Fort Road, Newhaven.

This would reduce running costs by £200,000 per year.

The plan was unveiled in Programme Nexus, which outlines the council’s priorities and policy aspirations over the next four years.

It is a programme of change for staff and service improvements alongside a zero per cent tax increase next year.

Cabinet members heard on Wednesday that the council’s large property portfolio can play a pivotal role, but a “robust corporate property strategy” was needed.

“Asset-led regeneration” could be used to promote social, economic and environmental objectives for Lewes District.

Working methods could be made more efficient, the Cabinet heard, by maximising the use of office accommodation and thereby reducing overheads. More use could be made of the latest information and communications technologies.

The introduction of “agile working” would enable the council to support staff working from home or on the move.

“Rationalisation” of the council’s administrative buildings offered the opportunity to invest capital receipts or to use the assets in partnership with the private sector.

Many regeneration schemes have stalled, such as North Street in Lewes and Railway Quay in Newhaven, because of the impact of the economic crisis.

Exploiting property and land assets can kick-start regeneration of these sites.

Programme Nexus – presented as an opportunity for “One Council, One District” – was approved by Cabinet members on Wednesday.

Meanwhile it is understood that council staff will be informed of the plans to sell buildings at a meeting today (Friday).