Since the financial crisis of 2008 balancing the books has been difficult for everyone, not least local councils.
Yet Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) has managed to keep council taxpayers’ bills at a steady rate year after year, something they are to be congratulated for, I believe.
However, the hard times continue, as George Osborne knows only too well, and councils will soon be faced with further challenges as arrangements between national and local government undergo important changes.
HBC will soon have an annual £5m black hole to fill and they will attempt to do this with further efficiency savings and the establishment of a trading arm to compete with various services in the private sector. I hope this doesn’t prove too difficult a task.
So, with such new challenges in prospect, I was heartened by Michael Hine’s letter (Harrogate Advertiser, October 15) which reveals that HBC have now managed to fit all their staff into just two of their existing sites. This means that three of the original fivesites can be disposed of, hopefully for a significant amount of money.
Effectively, the council will have achieved its long-held aspiration to consolidate its operations, thereby gaining efficiency savings for the future as well as putting some money into the coffers.
Looking ahead, the number of staff working in the two sites now occupied will only reduce, first due to the continuing need to make savings but also due to HBC’s policies of home-working and hot-desking.
There can only be one conclusion: there is now no reason to spend £15m building a new office block which is projected to have a life-span of only 60 years.
It has just occurred to me that the depreciation on that building works out at £250,000 per annum; I wonder how that compares with the depreciation on our wonderful Crescent Gardens offices (if there is any).
Please please, councillors, think again. Let your legacy not be a posh but un-needed building; let it be a record of continuing excellent stewardship and a contented public.