27/02/2014 - Permalink

Councillors decide on future of Westgate building in Bridgnorth after review

Related topics: Community / Democracy

Councillors today agreed the next steps after discussing recommendations for Bridgnorth from a review which aims to ensure that the council is getting the best value for residents from its buildings and assets.

At a meeting of full Council, councillors looked at the review findings which highlighted the under-occupancy of council buildings across Bridgnorth, and the ongoing work required to maintain the Westgate property in particular.

They decided that remaining staff and functions at Westgate should be relocated to other council buildings in the town, and that the building should be sold.

The wider review is placing a focus on the use of all council buildings and assets to make sure they are being used in ways that have the most impact in meeting customers’ needs. The council is looking at everything it does across the board to ensure that services are what people really need, and don’t cost more than they should.

The work is also looking at how the council offers residents access to services, and exploring ways to give customers more convenient and flexible options for contacting and dealing with the council.

The review has been carried out in consultation with all services which currently occupy the Westgate building, and services at other council buildings in Bridgnorth.

It found that the Westgate building had become significantly under-used and that it is possible to relocate the remaining staff and functions to other council buildings in the area, including an enhanced Customer Service Hub being created at Bridgnorth Library. This aims to bring together a wide range of information and services in a central, accessible location.

Mike Owen, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for resources, finance and support, said:

“The future of Westgate in Bridgnorth has been considered as part of a review which aims to ensure that the council is getting the most for customers from its funds and resources.

“With the financial pressures facing the council, we have to look at all the options to see if we can be working more efficiently, and make sure we are focusing on what makes the most difference to residents.

“There is no excuse for spending taxpayers’ money on the running and maintenance of under-occupied buildings when services can be delivered in different ways which still put the customer first.

“The sale of the building means we can save money and invest in new ways of delivering and offering access to our services.

“We have been working to ensure that staff and partners have been kept up to date and are fully supported during this review, and will continue to support our colleagues as services are relocated.”

The council will aim to relocate services by spring this year, enabling the building to be available for sale in the 2014/15 financial year.

However, the council will first honour all bookings for ceremonies; the Registrars Service can be contacted on 0345 678 9016 or by email at registrars@shropshire.gov.uk if anyone would like to discuss their booking.

Further details will be looked at, such as options for providing ceremony space after the building is sold.