Council House change of heart by Labour leader
THE leader of Derby City Council has had a change of heart over the controversial refurbishment of the Council House.
Labour's Councillor Paul Bayliss had spoken out strongly against the £36 million cost of refurbishing the city council's headquarters in Corporation Street.
It was a project which was signed off by the previous Conservative-led council and supported by the Liberal Democrats.
When Labour took over the running of the council following May's elections, the scheme was already well under way.
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As the building prepares for its public opening on Monday, Mr Bayliss said the sneak preview he received had helped him see the value of the work that has gone into refurbishing it.
Writing in his online blog, Mr Bayliss said: "I've now had my preparatory induction to the Council House and I can honestly say that the building looks fantastic.
"Yes, I know I said we shouldn't spend the money on it. But the previous administration has and, for the money spent, it should and does have a 'wow' factor."
A new central council chamber has been constructed at the core of the building.
Mr Bayliss said: "The new chamber really puts democracy at the heart of the building and the customer service area on the ground floor will be a vast improvement on what we had before, and what we have at the moment."
The public will be able to use the new Council House from Monday morning when it will be officially opened at around 10.30am.
People will also be able to have tours around the new building to see how it has changed. Those changes include a new glazed entrance and open plan reception foyer where a team of staff will meet customers and help them with their inquiries.
The council's existing customer services centre in Albion Street closed yesterday.
Mr Bayliss said: "Over the next two months, many of our services will move into the Council House and most of our public receptions in other buildings will close."
These include offices in Heritage Gate such as Saxon House, Norman House and Celtic House.