Fear for Derby City Council jobs over buildings sell-off
UP to 80% of the buildings which Derby City Council owns or leases could be disposed of to save nearly £3 million in maintenance fees, the authority's leadership has revealed.
The council has 1,500 premises across the city, including 340 from which it delivers services.
But it says that number must be reduced over the next three years in the face of cuts to its grants from the Government, which, along with the city's growing population, has left it needing to save £62 million.
Deputy council leader Ranjit Banwait said the council was moving towards a centralised model "as opposed to having localised services". This is being aided by the newly refurbished Council House which has more space for employees.
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Mr Banwait said that "at times of austerity the policy made sense" but that he would prefer to see services based in communities. Asked if the council would help staff who may find they have further to travel to work, Mr Banwait said: "I don't think we have sites more than three miles from the city centre, so I don't think it will prove a big change for people. But we will look at it on a case by case basis."
The council wants to reduce its spending on property maintenance from £4.3 million to £1.43 million over three years.
It also aims to save £225,000 over the three years in cleaning and caretaking costs.
Moz Greenshields, Derby Area Trades Union Council secretary, said she was "concerned that the saving in cleaning and caretaker costs would mean more job reductions".
Mr Banwait said the authority's leadership would work closely with unions to "avoid job losses as much as possible".
The council's cabinet is expected to confirm next Wednesday that a board will be created to decide which buildings will be kept and which will go. Some could be sold, others could be passed on to community groups which Mr Banwait said could "pay a peppercorn rent" and some council leases for buildings will not be renewed.
The board will decide which buildings the authority should dispose of, based on how energy-efficient they area, the cost of maintenance and how efficiently they can accommodate employees.
No buildings that could be disposed of have yet been announced.
Mrs Greenshields said unions were keen to see as many of the buildings as possible converted into social housing. She added: "The council needs to make sure that the properties being sold are sold at their true value."