Wednesday 24 April 2024
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Decision on whether council vacates County Hall to be taken next month

A decision on whether Nottinghamshire County Council will leave its County Hall headquarters will be taken by cabinet members next month.

The Conservative cabinet will meet on June 22 to discuss proposals for relocating the authority’s home.

A move is being considered because the council’s leadership says upkeep of the purpose-built West Bridgford site will likely cost as much as £50m over the next decade.

A leading cabinet member previously confirmed the building has asbestos which needs removing, while bringing the rest of the site up to modern standards is also expected to cost millions.

The authority will also consider whether to relocate its main council functions – including the debating chamber – to the planned £15.7m new office at Top Wighay, near Hucknall and Linby.

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This decision is expected to be included in a report which will be presented to cabinet members at the June 22 meeting.

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County Hall

However, Councillor Ben Bradley MP (Con), the council’s leader, says no decision on the future use of the historic building will be taken next month.

He said: “There will be a decision in June.

“We’ve had the scrutiny report which said, in principle, yes we can see this building is expensive and perhaps we should look at other options.

“We’ve been considering then whether Top Wighay is appropriate and what that might look like and, at June’s cabinet meeting, we will formally present a report and make that decision.

“At this stage, we will decide whether we leave County Hall and if Top Wighay is the right place.

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Nottinghamshire County Council
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“We’ll then set ourselves another piece of work to decide what happens with County Hall then.”

It follows both Cllr Bradley and Cllr Keith Girling (Con), cabinet member for economic development and asset management, outlining what they think the building could be used for in the future.

Ideas such as luxury riverside apartments, a hotel, bars and restaurants have been floated over the past six months.

However, the council leader says no decisions on what happens to the building will be taken in the near future.

“We will be absolutely clear that, if we do leave County Hall, there will always be a workspace in West Bridgford and we’ll protect the heritage of this building,” he added.

“We’re not going to have a conclusion of what we do with County Hall at that meeting.”

The landmark headquarters was built on the banks of the River Trent in the 1930s and opened in 1946.

It houses the council’s debating chamber for meetings, alongside services and support offices.

When outlining the relocation plans in December, Cllr Girling suggested the future Top Wighay site could be redesigned to incorporate these facilities.

This included the council chamber, though he indicated the resigned chamber would not be as “grand” as the current County Hall set-up.

But the plans have led to criticism from opposition leaders.

Cllr Francis Purdue-Horan (Ind), of the Independent Alliance opposition group, has long said the relocation is the “worst-kept secret” in Nottinghamshire.

He added: “Everyone knows County Hall is prime real estate.

“We’ve always felt the real reason they are building the new £15.7million office block at Top Wighay near Hucknall is that they are considering selling County Hall to the highest bidder.”

Cllr Kate Foale, the Labour Group leader, added: “We now have a situation where Conservative county councillors are looking to sell off Nottinghamshire residents’ historic public buildings and local spaces.

“[This is] in order to bail out a Government which has plunged public services into crisis by trying to deliver on the cheap.”

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