Cheshire East Council is set to close their headquarters in order to reduce costs.
Members of the Corporate Policy Committee voted on Thursday, 30th November, to close the Westfields offices in Sandbach. Staff will relocate to either Delamere House in Crewe or Macclesfield Town Hall.
Councillor Craig Browne said "Faced with a funding gap of £48m in high-level SEND (Special Education Needs) last year, coupled with high inflation, escalating fuel costs and the removal of the Revenue Support Grant (£57m) by central government, Cheshire East, like many other unitary councils is having to make a series of difficult and painful decisions to balance its books. This has led to the need for the council to consider rationalising its estate, such that the closure of its current headquarters is now being recommended.
"Even before the impact of the Covid pandemic, the council's corporate estate was not being fully utilised, with office space occupied at an average of 50% capacity on a regular basis. Since the pandemic, the increase in virtual meetings and homeworking supports a material reduction in the need for staff to attend corporate offices, with an average utilisation rate of around 25%.
"A workplace survey has therefore concluded that the council's current and future needs can be accommodated utilising just two sites, one at Delamere House in Crewe and the other at Macclesfield Town Hall.
"The financial savings associated with this rationalisation of estate are estimated to be in the region of £700,000 over the course of the next two years. Those savings include heating, lighting and insurance costs, as well as routine maintenance.
"In the longer term, a decision will need to be made around whether to completely dispose of the asset in return for a capital sum, to repurpose the building (for example to increase local capacity for SEND provision), or to lease the building thereby generating a regular income to the council's revenue account."
The results of a staff survey carried out earlier in the year showed that 47% of survey respondents supported the closure of Westfields, whilst 35% were opposed to it.
The results also showed that survey respondents currently based in Westfields were most likely to oppose the proposal to close this office, with 53% of those currently based in Westfields opposed to its closure.