NEWS | Herefordshire Council adopts ‘better ways of working’

Initiative enables employees to work flexibly and consolidates council’s buildings 

Cabinet has approved a long term savings plan to reduce Herefordshire Council’s office accommodation in Hereford. The council will also encourage staff to work from alternative locations or use market town multi-agency offices in an effort to reduce the employee carbon footprint and congestion into Hereford. These plans form part of the ‘Better Ways of Working’ principle adopted today.

View the decision details on the Herefordshire Council website.

Herefordshire Council currently operates from three core sites for back office staff; Plough Lane, Elgar House and Nelson Centre. Multi-agency offices are also available in all of the market towns.

The council plans to vacate Nelson Centre on Whitecross Road and Children and Family Services will relocate to Plough Lane. Staff will be encouraged to work remotely from multi-agency offices or other locations. Vacating the Nelson Centre will create an annual saving of £155k a year as the council will no longer pay the running cost and lease of the building. This follows the closure of Bath Street offices 18 months ago which achieved an annual saving of £130k a year. As well as the financial benefit, the consolidation of council buildings will bring a sustainability benefit of reduced energy consumption.

The Plough Lane offices were bought in 2009 as a long-term investment. As part of the decision, up to £855k has been agreed to reconfigure working space at Plough Lane, although the savings made by vacating Nelson Centre will cover this in just over four years.  The council will also continue to operate Elgar House (Holmer Road) which has a long-term lease.

Councillor Gemma Davies, Herefordshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Commissioning, Procurement and Assets, said:

“In a world of huge central government cuts where council services have been significantly reduced, the public rightly expects the council to use its limited funding wisely. The accommodation strategy for staff identifies the need to reduce the main Hereford sites down from 3 to 2. This change not only reduces the costs in rent and maintenance issues but more importantly brings council departments together, further embedding our desire to integrate children’s services and adult social care more closely.  The wider concept of ‘Better Ways of Working’ recognises the fact that people work differently to 10 years ago and will provide more opportunities for truly county-wide working utilising multi agency offices and home working. This will also reduce the amount of people travelling into Hereford for work, which helps to decrease congestion and responds to the climate emergency.”

The council will continue to support a network of offices in the market towns for staff working outside of Hereford. The decision also outlines that the council is committed to being a “paper-light” organisation which saves costs and is better for the environment.