(Interim Strategic Director) To consider the attached report.
The interim Strategic Director presented an update report on the Accommodation Strategy.
The interim Strategic Director reported that listed building consent for the refurbishment had been approved, with some minor planning conditions that would be managed through the works contract. A contract from the Joint Contracts Tribunal suite of contracts had been proposed. It was a standard form of contract and design responsibility would lie with the contractor. It was proposed to use a public framework to procure the contract as it complied with the OJEU procurement process; all nine contractors who had qualified through the framework would be asked if they were interested in submitting a tender for the works.
The interim Strategic Director stated that a detailed decant plan had been developed to mange how different teams would be moved into the Conder building and other offices between January and June 2020. Staff were also being encouraged to start working within their teams on the new 7 : 10 working ration in preparation for their return to the refurbished Civic Offices. The ICT Strategy was an important enabler for the project, and this included the roll-out of Microsoft Teams to facilitate agile working.
The interim Strategic Director informed the Committee that a ‘Change Champions’ group had been established to ensure adequate staff engagement in the project. A Member Workshop had been held in December 2019 to present the detailed plans for the building and review the pilot scheme on the second floor of the Civic Offices. There would be a further Member Workshop to progress the designs of the existing Member space on the first floor of the Civic Offices.
Cllr R Baldwin enquired what the 7 : 10 ratio referred to, and how the decisions regarding the temporary arrangements for Member meetings, particularly the use of the Control Tower at North Weald Airfield, was arrived at? The interim Strategic Director responded that the 7 : 10 ratio referred to 7 desks being available for every 10 members of staff. In respect of the temporary arrangements for Member meetings, the Control Tower at North Weald Airfield was an option but other venues were being considered. There would be further consultation with Members before June, and arrangements would be put in place for transport to other meeting venues.
Cllr S Murray wanted an assurance that the painful lessons from going over budget when originally building the Civic Offices had been learnt for this refurbishment project. Additionally, the Councillor would like Members to be consulted over the plans for off-site Member meetings during the refurbishment period, and highlighted the importance of public access to Committee meetings as well. The Chairman added that it was particularly important for the public to be able access Planning meetings. The interim Strategic Director reassured the Committee that the Council had commissioned consultants for the tender process, and the works would be monitored very closely to ensure that the project did not exceed its budget. More detailed options for Member meetings during the refurbishment project would be presented to Councillors within the next month for consultation.
Councillor Wixley enquired whether the OJEU regulations were still applicable after the United Kingdom left the European Union, and what was the date for the next Member Workshop? Cllr J H Whitehouse also enquired about the cost of the proposed structural changes and fittings. The interim Strategic Director stated that the OJEU would still apply after the United Kingdom left the European Union, and it was a very good process to follow when procuring large contracts. The date for the next Member workshop would be circulated in the next week when it had been finalised. The cost of the structural changes to the Civic Offices was projected to be £6.6million, but the Director did not have the cost of the fittings to hand and would respond to the Councillor in the next few days.
(1) That the current progress with the Accommodation Strategy be noted.