Council asset rationalisation savings on target for 2023/24

At today’s (Thursday 30 March 2023) Redesign Board, Members noted the progress to date on projects to relocate staff from Inverness Town House to Council Headquarters and on vacating the High Life Highland office building in Ardross Street, Inverness.

Both the asset management and hybrid working target to achieve savings of £500k by April 2023 are on track, as is the full target savings of £1.3M by the end of the financial year 2023/24.

Redesign Board Chair, Cllr Bill Lobban said: “The Redesign Board are content with the progress being made that will deliver savings by reducing the Council’s office footprint. The relocation of Inverness Town House staff to Council HQ is now underway and will help to reduce overhead costs, reduce energy consumption, and contribute to climate change targets, whilst allowing the iconic civic building to be better utilised.

“A revised Asset Management Project brief will be brought to a future Redesign Board meeting, to outline the findings from additional work streams and business case proposals.”  

The Asset Management Project (AMP) seeks to deliver improvements of the Council’s estate by reviewing the use and reducing the number of our property assets, reducing associated maintenance costs, energy use and carbon emissions and therefore contributing to delivering revenue savings across all properties in 2023/24 and beyond. School estate and housing revenue account properties are not included in the scope of the AMP.

The relocation of Council office based staff from Inverness Town House is the first phase of the overall AMP to rationalise office accommodation in the Inverness area, focussing on increased utilisation of the Headquarters buildings. The phased approach is set out as follows.

  • Phase 1: Engage with Service Management Teams and individual Team Managers in Headquarters and Town House to set out the approach; establish protocols for new working arrangements in line with team workplace agreements.
  • Phase 2: Redesign spaces to be more flexible, including more collaboration space; develop supporting processes, such as space sharing agreements, desk booking systems.
  • Phase 3: Implement changes, relocate staff, complete move of staff from other properties; obtain feedback on new working arrangements and carry out space utilisation survey.

High Life Highland are on course to vacate the offices in Ardross Street, Inverness by 31 March 2023, with alternative staff accommodation being provided at the Highland Archive and Registration Centre. The Ardross Street property has been placed on the market with offers over £425,000 invited.

While resources have had to be focussed on the relocation of staff from Inverness Town House, there have been some initial discussions and engagement with staff on the other in-scope offices in the Inverness area as listed below. A detailed update will be provided at the next meeting of the Redesign Board.

  • Culcabock Child Guidance Centre
  • Criminal Justice Services, Culduthel
  • Dochfour Hutted Accommodation
  • Offices at 4 Castle Wynd
  • Trading Standards Office, Harbour Road

Next Steps:

Additional work streams are reviewing other Council depots and buildings, assessing how they are currently being used, the condition and suitability of buildings, potential opportunities for co-location and partnership working with other public sector bodies. Initial workshops have been undertaken with Service Management representatives and further workshops are planned in the coming weeks.

To reflect the dynamic changes to the initial Asset Management Project brief and the move away from the nine key hub buildings concept, an amended AMP brief is required to reflect the approach that buildings/offices/depots may close unless a detailed business case proposal is submitted supporting their retention and is agreed by Redesign Board Members.

The development of the next stages of the AMP will be taken forward in conjunction with regular Member/Sponsor meetings and reported back to future Redesign Boards.

30 Mar 2023