Cheshire East Council confirms £2.2m closure of HQ
By Belinda Ryan - Local Democracy Reporter
30th Nov 2023 | Local News
Cheshire East Council is to press ahead with plans to close its Westfields headquarters at Sandbach.
The corporate policy committee voted unanimously today (Thursday) to close the Middlewich Road building to save money.
No date has been given for the closure but, during the debate, council leader Sam Corcoran (Lab) said: "If this decision is taken, I would want the re-purposing of the building to be carried out as swiftly as possible in order to realise the savings and potentially generate a new income stream or a new capital receipt."
The cash-strapped council is facing an £18.7m budget shortfall and needs to reduce costs across all services.
With many staff working from home, it no longer needs so much office space.
Staff currently working at Westfields will be relocated to Delamere House in Crewe or Macclesfield Town Hall and, following today's decision, the head of HR, together with the head of democratic services, will continue talks with trade unions and employees.
The council estimates it will cost nearly £2.2m to close the Sandbach offices, relocate staff and equipment and refurbish the buildings they will move into.
Director of finance Alex Thompson stressed it was not possible to say when Westfields would close.
"I wouldn't give a specific timescale, that would be subject to the further consultation, it will also be subject to the options appraisal on what we do with the site," said Mr Thompson.
With regard to improving Delamere House, he said: "We have already got investment from government funding that has helped us improve the facilities at Delamere House. We would be putting in improved furniture and improved facilities for staff, making better use of the space so there's no waste in both Delamere House and Macclesfield Town Hall."
Deputy council leader Craig Browne (Ind) proposed the recommendation to approve the option to close the Westfields offices.
He said alternatives had been considered but they wouldn't realise the savings which need to be made.
"The report also illustrates how it's possible for us to meet our occupancy requirements with two principle buildings at Macclesfield and Delamere House," said Cllr Browne.
He added: "Personally [for Westfields] I would prefer a re-purposing or a leasehold arrangement so that we both retain control but also have a future revenue generation stream, but that's not the question we're being asked to make today. The decision that comes first is do we need to close and I think, all things being equal, we do."
The proposal was seconded by Cllr Jill Rhodes (Crewe, Lab) and the vote was unanimous.