CASH-STRAPPED Conwy County Council will spend over quarter of a million pounds on a study to close its Bodlondeb HQ.
The cabinet met this week at the Grade-II listed building and voted in favour of re-evaluating its estate at a cost of £255,000.
The funds will be taken from capital reserves and used to develop a full business case detailing how staff will be moved and how Bodlondeb will be sold.
The plan is to shut Bodlondeb, sell the building, and move staff to the £58m Coed Pella offices in Colwyn Bay.
It comes after the matter was recently discussed at a finance scrutiny meeting where councillors voted to back a “one-office strategy” report, but the matter first needed the backing of cabinet, which it has now got.
Conwy’s leader Cllr Charlie McCoubrey said the council had to spend money to save money.
“It is absolutely vitally important that we get this right,” he said.
“This is a huge decision for us both in terms of reducing to one office in Coed Pella but also in maximising the community benefit, the economic benefit, and making sure that this amenity is utilised in Bodlondeb to support the residents in Conwy.
“It is a really important building. So we have to do this properly.
“We have to learn from previous things where the disposal (of a building) hasn’t gone as well as possible, and without the right information, the ability to market this and move it forward properly, things aren’t going to work. So whilst it is a lot of money, it is money in the long term which will save us money if everything goes to plan.
“I think it’s a win-win situation which will bring really beneficial business to the town, support our tourist industry, support people’s leisure and retail, and also we as a council have maximum use of what is a really modern building, which not only creates an environment where we can work better, but we can see more people more often, and we can engage better and support the town of Colwyn Bay as one of the original proposals (of Coed Pella).”
Cabinet member for finance Cllr Nigel Smith seconded the leader’s proposal, which included the nomination of Cllr Andrew Wood on the project board.
“It is imperative that we get this right,” he said.
“And I also have a lot of faith in Cllr Andrew Wood as the member on the board. Andrew was an excellent member of the audit committee. I have seen his work, and he digs deep into everything. So he is the right man for that position.”
The decision follows the authority’s finance officer revealing Conwy faces a £20m to £30m budget shortfall next year, having already increased council tax by 9.9% last year and forced services to make 10% cuts.
Only education escaped the 10% budget cuts.
But even schools were forced to make 5% cuts, despite children’s education suffering in the aftermath of Covid-19.
School redundancies and loan applications from headmasters to the council followed.