County Council could consider moving from Chelmsford HQ

Essex County Council is developing options that may mean it moves out of its headquarters in Chelmsford city centre.

As much as £2.6million could be saved annually by moving out of County Hall that the administration says is only partially filled after its shift to hybrid working patterns.

Leader of Essex County Council Councillor Kevin Bentley said at cabinet on July 19: “There is no decision made about this building and nor will there be for a little while yet.

“But what is important is that it is quite clear is that while there are quite few of us in today, for those us who do come in during the course of the week the building is virtually empty.

“And that is not just here, that is elsewhere in the entire estate.

“We are working differently and therefore that must be reflected on behalf of the tax payer who pay for these buildings.

“If we are not going to use them in the same way we need to find better ways to help them save money and deliver better value for them as well.”

In September 2021, Essex County Council introduced its new hybrid ‘Ways of Working’ programme which there are four types of workstyles.

Anywhere workers can work from home or remotely most of the time, fixed-based workers are based at specific locations, community-based workers spend most time working in the wider community and operational field-based workers work outside and rarely perform computer based tasks.

A paper to Essex County Council cabinet said there has been a full year forecast over spend of £5.1m driven by pressures within the Adult Social Care and Health, and the Finance, Resources and Corporate Affairs portfolios in which specifically there could be a £2.6m saving within property if the possible exit of County Hall goes ahead.

Essex County Council cabinet member Councillor Chris Whitbread added: “What I would say is we have mothballed part of this building already that are underused to find savings and good management is key particularly as part of our climate change agenda as well.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter