However it seems that this is not just an issue affecting England, as Cardiff Council have declared that they will close 24 out of their 51 commercial properties in order clear some of their debt. The council’s debt currently runs into millions of pounds, which is escalating with the mounting costs of rents and rates on buildings that they hardly use.
Cardiff Council plan to start selling off the buildings as and when leases run out. By 2016 they plan to have sold all 24 buildings, which could save them approximately £1.1 million per year in rental charges and rates. By selling the commercial properties, they will also be cutting their carbon emissions by 16.5 per cent.
The other 27 buildings in the council’s portfolio will remain, with four key buildings being refurbished. These include: City Hall, County Hall, Global Link and Willcox House. To pay for the refurbishments £4.3 million will come from the sale of seven buildings, whilst £3.2 million will come from the council’s budget and roughly £10 million will be borrowed. But with the council borrowing money to pay for refurbishments – isn’t that outweighing the main aim of trying to reduce their debt?
Around 350 jobs will be in jeopardy with the commercial property closures, but the council is hoping to relocate staff to the other 27 buildings.
Speaking of the closures, Mark Stephens, Councillor, stated: “Consolidating our office accommodation will result in fewer but more efficient council buildings.
“I don’t think we’ll end up with a lot of empty buildings. I think there are a lot of attractive opportunities for the owners of the buildings. There is a revival of interest in housing in the city.”
With council employees compressing into 27 offices, after being spread out in 51 buildings for many years, Unison Branch Secretary for the council, Angie Shiels, believes that a “21st century work life balance” should be considered.
“These will include more flexible working arrangements, with home-working, and utilising remaining council buildings, more effectively,” Ms Shiels said.