£200,000 Office Plan Being Brought To Councillors

town hall 4Council managers in Scilly want to spend almost £200,000 upgrading offices.

Senior Manager for Strategic Development Diana Mompoloki is proposing a radical overhaul of the Town Hall and Wesleyan Chapel.

Diana wants to create open-plan spaces with 13 new desks in the two buildings, raising the total number of staff that can be accommodated from 30 to 43.

That means each new desk space will cost around £15,000.

She says the work will ensure the Council complies with safety and disability legislation, and enable closer working between the different departments.

What’s Your View?

Senior staff began talks on how to manage office space just days after the new Chief Executive Theo Leisjer took over.

The cash-strapped Council has issued redundancy warnings to staff in order to balance its books and last week its interim finance controller warned that more cutbacks were on the cards.

Diana is proposing that the Council sells off its Porthmellon offices to part-fund the workplace upgrade. The unit was valued at £115,000 in 2011.

13 staff were moved from the former Home Hardware stores on the Industrial Estate in in April. At the time, Council Chairman Amanda Martin said low flying aircraft were affecting internet connections, making the building unsuitable for workers.

Diana is hoping that councillors will back the £200,000 makeover and approve the sale of the Porthmellon site at next Tuesday’s Full Council meeting.

17 Responses to £200,000 Office Plan Being Brought To Councillors

  1. Johnboy August 2, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Wasn’t the Porth Mellon site purchased by the fire brigade to counteract the council taking over part of the fire station as office space so when did the council obtain the site. `any compensation paid to the fire brigade?. I believe any monies from a future sale were to be put towards the purchase of a new fire appliance?

  2. higgy August 2, 2014 at 9:20 am

    I agree totally with Peter and Ewart. And yes councillors are getting led by the nose by the smarter officers. That’s always been a problem though, some councillors have no knowledge of legalities and legislation. Perhaps they could use CCC for legal advice and guidance on council matters/proposals rather than being advised from within. As for us residents, well we’ve shouted before but nothing ever happens. If anyone out there has suggestions as to how we can effectively stop some of these outrageous proposals then please help.

  3. Adam Morton August 1, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Well the Council certainly have THEIR priorities!

  4. Jonny Exile August 1, 2014 at 9:48 am

    I read a book recently about the early days of Twitter which included a quote from Mark Zuckerberg (the Facebook founder) who apparently said that Twitter was “such a mess it’s as if they drove a clown car into a gold mine and fell in” meaning that, despite the chaos in the company, it was awash with investor’s money. It seems to me that would also be a pretty good description of the Council, the ‘gold mine’ in their case being one of taxpayers’ money. There’ll doubtless be some comedy moments when the clown car gets an outing next Tuesday but don’t expect much else.

  5. Richard Hobbs July 31, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    When you look at how much this costs each household it seems very expensive. According to the council statement of accounts there are 1166 dwellings on the valuation list. £200,000/1166 = £171.52. That is what this is costing each council tax payer. I cant speak for anyone else but I would rather see my bill reduced by that amount instead. I know it is the intention to sell the porthmellon offices to part fund it but we own that. It was bought with our money.

  6. Pants on Fire July 31, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    Be careful what you wish for! This lot are a joke. What happened to the £600,000 ‘black hole’ that this regime claimed was down to the previous incumbents? Smoke and mirrors me thinks. Suddenly, we have money to burn.
    And Mr Simms claims that a certain officer would be entitled to £1.5 million if that officer had claimed only 5% of the funding brought into the islands. A quick math equation tells me that the claimed funding raised by this officer is £30 million pounds. That would no doubt include the school and the sports hall. Does Mr Simms think (or hope) that we are all suffering from total amnesia? I think Mr Simms will find that the funding for those projects was sourced at a much higher level than he is suggesting.
    I would suggest that the officers concentrate on getting the already announced funding that has yet to be confirmed instead of claiming credit for work done by others.

  7. Yet anoth July 31, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    What a week it’s been…..£196,000 overspend , £78,000 on Porthcressa ( no one has really explained why) and now £200,000 on offices. Never mind we’re going save a million by getting rid of ten jobs. Strikes me the sums just don’t add up. I guess that the new management team is leading the chairman and her dynamic councillors up the garden path to where the money tree grows. What a shambles!

  8. Ewart July 31, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    The Staff used to be accommodated in the Town Hall together with the Council chamber
    without the need for external offices. Therefore reduce the number of highly paid Officers
    until they can, with comfort fit within the Town Hall. This would reduce the expenditure on salaries by several million and I would doubt if anyone in the Islands would notice any difference in the level of service they receive.

    Having been employed in Local Government albeit some long time ago, one was always told that as an Officer you were there to advise the Councillors and NOT to dictate as to what they should do, in other words the decisions that they made were theirs and not of the Officers. It was incumbent of you to advise them of any legal implications of any decisions they took, but at the end of the day it was their decision.
    I have to admit, it took, at times strong leadership from the head of the Elected Members
    to resist the recommendations from Senior Officers. I do not know, but perhaps this is what is lacking in the Islands Council. Someone who lives in the Islands may wish to elaborate
    on this point.

  9. Alex F July 31, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    Thank you, Mr Hicks, for putting my thoughts exactly.

    For what it is worth; I am a Buyer for in the public sector, six months ago I fitted out an open plan office for 62 people. Bench desks, PC monitors on moveable arms, PC’s tucked out of the way under the desk so lots of working space and amount 250 linear metres of filing. Total cost installed over two days; £85000.00. So someone is having a laugh and it isn’t the taxpayer. If this goes ahead then perhaps an independent audit needs to be called for?

  10. Peter July 31, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    I fully appreciate that swearing is not allowing on here, but… @&$£%#! It just gets worse. I will keep posting the same message over and over again. IoS Council is not fit for purpose and the dear folk of Scilly need to swallow their pride, revolt and demand to be managed by Cornwall Council, for their own sakes. Cornwall Council most certainly is not perfect, but it’s got to be more cost effective, competent (with a proven track record), and – crucially – accountable, than this shower. And, yes, I am not an islander, but I love the islands, and we have established from previous posts that I have every right to comment as most of this profligacy with public money is met not from local council taxes but from central government funding, i.e. my and everyone else’s taxes. Even if there is some logic (“safety and disability”) behind this decision to spend £200,000 the council doesn’t have, this is hardly the way to announce such sensitive information, which hints at political naivety, and, again, flags up the same theme of an incompetent council. The honeymoon period for the new Chief Executive is well and truly over now: there appears to be no reduction in the maladministration since his arrival. Same old… And, at the time of the planes-affecting-the-internet fiasco a few months ago, contributors on here were destroying the rationale offered by the council for the office move, and, I suspect, sensing there were things we were not being told which were nothing to do with interference from planes. Maybe the truth is now out.

    • Ian T. August 1, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      Exactly right, Peter. As I’ve stated more times than I can remember, I do not understand why Scilly was not included in the ‘one Cornwall’ council changes. It just makes so much sense.

  11. john stickland July 31, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    What a difference a few months makes. Last September, regarding the forthcoming budget for the Council of the Isles of Scilly, Radio Scilly reported

    “They’ll need to make substantial reductions starting from next April to avoid dipping in to reserves. And that’s likely to involve more painful decisions, including cuts to services and staff.

    Chair of Council Amanda Martin said that members had “a duty to the community” to set the budgets appropriately.”

    Here we are, a few months later and the Council are considering spending £200,000 on re-organising office space. Presumably this is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic on 15th April 1912.

    I am in the process of starting up a business, having left my employment in the NHS. I would dearly love to purchase a new vehicle and equipment. I can’t afford it – it will have to wait until I can afford it. That’s simple, old fashioned, sensible accounting. In the same vein, how can the Council have budget cuts, redundancies and cut backs, yet at the same time propose to spend £200,000 on shuffling round offices ? If we can afford to spend this kind of money, surely we can afford to keep the kitchen at Park House?

    As is so often the case, the words of John Hicks have a delightful wisdom of the ‘old school’ of the islands with common sense foremost.

    • Nobby Nobbs August 1, 2014 at 7:54 am

      Ah, what you’re forgetting is that its European funded, so that doesn’t count as tax payers money, because it comes from Europe which is not funded in any way by the British tax payer to the tune of £50m per day.

  12. meme July 31, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    What is it with out Council? or is it the Management team, who appear to constantly change their minds with their recommendations. Please Councillors let us see some sense in your decisions, because at the moment there just does not seem to be any – get a grip. Perhaps with the ALLEDGED redundancies it should be the new Management Team under scrutiny. One can only wish.

  13. Nobby Nobbs July 31, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Why not turn the old wholesalers on the industrial estate into one big open plan council office, I mean the council have already wasted £110,000 on consultants fees on how to turn it into offices/workshops, so why not use that building instead, as the money has already been spent.

    The council could then flog off all the numerous other buildings they have dotted around the islands from the days of empire building and the money raised could offset the costs of relocation.

    Oh but wait….hold on a minute, slaps forehead & rolls eyes, I’m talking common sense again, but of course this is the ios council and public money we’re talking about here. Derr, common sense need not apply.

  14. LINDY July 31, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    NOT A PENNY MORE MUST BE SPENT. As for complying with health and safety, disability legislation with the staff numbers reducing surlely the space release from staff cuts would accommodate the requirements.
    Councillors please take control and I trust that the interim finance controllers advice that more cutbacks are needed are listened too.

  15. John Hicks July 31, 2014 at 10:57 am

    If this werent so serious it would be hilarious. £200,000? really? I thought the council was trying to save money. I also thought the council were trying to reduce staff so why on earth do they want to increase it to 43. I know, I know, I don’t live there any more so what has it got to do with me? I still have a very warm spot in my heart for the Islands and really hate to see them being changed so dramatically and ridden rough shod over like it appears at the moment. Also why are the councillors being led by the nose by the officers, I thought things were going to change for the better after Mr Hygate was ousted but it seems like they are being driven at full tilt to the edge of the precipice. What with suggestions of 120 new houses, and now this, It all seems that everything we strived for in the 70’s 80’s and 90’s was all just a waste of time. It would appear to the outsider looking in that the writing is on the wall for Scilly as it once was. i’m not against change as long as it is for the good of the local residents and the islands in general, but once you have a load more new houses and many more people coming in from outside to live the locals will disappear into a cloud of smoke and who then will there be to speak with words of wisdom and experience, I just hope it’s not too late to calm some of these wild ideas down, Please remember Scilly is a tiny place and is loved by 100’s of 1000’s of people world wide and to ruin it would be a total travesty not to mention mismanagement of a beautiful corner of the world. Please, please be sensible in your approach to these ideas and plans of such magnitude, don’t be blinded by science and someones fanciful ideas. I always remember some very wise words from dear Mrs Katy Thompson when she was shopping in the coop many years ago, when someone saw her looking at a tin of salmon, the lady said “Oh I didn’t think you could afford a tin of Salmon” to which Katy replied ” I can’t, I’m just looking at it. I only buy what I need, not what I want” and that seems like a great sentiment for the council of the Isles of Scilly, Buy what you need, not what you want!