Nottinghamshire Council leader says authority 'likely to move out of at least some, if not all’ of County Hall

Nottinghamshire Council is likely to move out of “at least some if not all” of its West Bridgford headquarters in future, the council’s leader says.
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The Conservative-led authority is planning behind the scenes to work out the next stages for County Hall.

Purpose-built beside the River Trent in the 1930s, the council says the site would cost about £50 million over the next decade to bring up to modern standards.

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The current condition of the site – including its age and problems with asbestos – mean it would continue to cost millions to maintain.

Conservative councillors say it will cost millions to upgrade and maintain County HallConservative councillors say it will cost millions to upgrade and maintain County Hall
Conservative councillors say it will cost millions to upgrade and maintain County Hall

Tory leaders have previously suggested the authority could relocate some or all services – including the council’s debating chamber – to the new flagship £15.7 million Top Wighay site near Hucknall.

Opposition councillors say the plans are the “worst-kept secret” in Nottinghamshire and fear the council is “selling off” precious public space.

But the Conservative administration says remaining in the West Bridgford site “isn’t realistic” because of its soaring maintenance costs.

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Coun Keith Girling, cabinet member for asset management, who is responsible for deciding the future direction of the building, said back in January a Top Wighay relocation could put the council “in the heart” of the county.

Now Coun Ben Bradley, council leader and Mansfield MP, says a final decision on what happens next with the site will be taken by Coun Girling in the coming weeks.

He said: “We’ve been doing some mapping and some options work behind the scenes to lay out what’s possible. We’ve always said the cost of this building isn’t realistic so from an administration point of view, we imagine we will end up vacating at least some – if not all – of it.

“Coun Girling’s decision will be about what we do with it and we don’t know the answer to that yet.”

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Both politicians have been outspoken in the past about the commercial prospects County Hall could offer, including bars, restaurants, luxury flats or a hotel.

Coun Girling previously said: “If we’ve got luxury flats above and a good area below, with bars and restaurants looking out on the river, it would really lift this place and regenerate it.

“We are building Top Wighay and why wouldn’t we look at being in that new building? To me, it makes complete sense.”

Coun Girling will be presented with delegated decision documents from council officers in the coming weeks.

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He previously said he wanted a decision on the building to be taken by the end of March.

However, the plan may also be debated by full council in the future – and opposition parties are not convinced by the plans.

Coun Kate Foale, Labour group leader, said: “Conservative county councillors are looking to sell off Nottinghamshire residents’ historic public buildings and local spaces in order to bail out a Government which has plunged public services into crisis by trying to deliver on the cheap.”

And Coun Francis Purdue Horan, of the Independent Alliance, said: “The fact the Conservatives want to sell County Hall is Nottinghamshire’s worst kept secret.

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