Council in juggling act

Bretton Hall
Bretton Hall
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PLANS which show how Wakefield Council will juggle its £200m worth of assets to help improve the district over the next five years are set to be approved next week.

Members of Wakefield Council’s cabinet will consider the Asset Management Plan for 2011 to 2016 when they meet on Tuesday.

It shows how things like regeneration, property disposals and a property maintenance programme will help fund some of the council’s main priorities like protecting the most vulnerable, creating job opportunities and reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.

Under the plans, community groups would also be able to use some of the council’s assets to attract funding as part of a new community transfer policy.

Regeneration projects highlighted in the 44-page report, include affordable housing schemes at Eagle Grove in Flanshaw and the delivery of a new hotel and office development on the Bretton Hall estate.

Over the next five years, the report said the council would dispose of £39m worth of property, which could include its offices at Newton Bar and 71 Northgate, which houses the coroner’s court and register office.

As part of an office accommodation strategy outlined in the plans, more than 2,000 council employees will be relocated and 19 services moved into the council’s new offices at Merchant Gate, in May next year.

There, the average staff to workstation ratio will be 130 staff to 100 work stations, and it will be a ‘paperlight’ environment, where everything will be stored electronically.

Responding to the report, Coun Ron Halliday, chairman of the corporate performance overview and scrutiny committee said the committee was pleased to see community groups would be able to use assets to attract external funding, but raised concerns about the council’s IT systems not being able to cope with the ‘paperlight’ environment.

But he added: “Land and property assets are among the most expensive resources that the council has, therefore it is important that they are managed effectively.

“We believe that this plan provides the framework for achieving this over the next five years.”