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New Council Offices For Wick

22nd January 2012

Photograph of New Council Offices For Wick

The centre of Wick will see regeneration come to life when work on the new council office begins later this year.

Most of the existing council offices at Market Square will be demolished to make way for a modern building whilst retaining Stafford Place - the curved building that is part of High Street.

The new offices herald not just a new building but a change to working practices that will bring more efficiency to the way officers work. Shared facilties will be the order of the day with many of the staff who are out and about sharing desks and logging into computers if they are working in the office.

Surveys of working practices highlighted the number of hours each week where desks were unused as staff were out working around the area. Savings in space within the building mean that lower energy and other costs will result in many changes able to be implemented with the new offices.

The existing offices have had serious structural defects identified many years ago but it was felt that finally the time had come to change in order that a more modern approach could lead to better and efficient provision of services.

Early discussions a couple of years ago led to the conclusion that in order to ensure that the town centre did not become a ghost town then offices should be retained in the traditional place. At the same time a rationalisation of council buildings was necessary to gain the efficiencies and savings by having all of the services under one roof.

The council staff in Market Square will move to the old social security offices after the summer for about two years whilst the demolition and construction work on the 8.5 million project is underway.

Historic Scotand has been consulted and is advising on the features of the Stafford Place to be retained. There were no objections to the planning application submitted by Highland Council.

Wick councillor Bill Fernie, said, "This is a very significant development for Wick and the east of Caithness. It will bring together the staff from three main offices in Market Square, Rhind House and social work near Camps and this will lead to many efficiencies whilst retaining up to 180 people in the centre of Wick. The investment will create a significant economic boost to the area at a time when contractors are under a lot of pressure and for two years the spend will boost many businesses in the area."

"This development combines economic regeneration with addressing efficiency and improving services to local people. It is one of a clutch of new buildings that will help to put a new impetus into Wick. When combined with a new Wick High school including swiimng pool, library and improved sports facilities and the two new primary schools we are planning to start the next few years are goint to see major transformation of the infrastructure of our town."

"It is good to see that finally after the last couple of years of discussion, meetings and hard work by many people that things are beginning to come together. I believe Wick has a very bright future and with substantial capital investments in excess of 65 million over the next few years and it will have a huge impact that will bring benefits for many years to come."

Work will go out to tender shortly with work expected to begin in October 2012.

More information can be found in the planning application passed in December 2011 at -
http://www.highland.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/5E4339C1-1199-4B4E-9FAE-92CBCA4F4054/0/PLC05911Part1.pdf

In addition to the new council offices councillors also hear recently that works would shortly begin to upgrade the town hall thatr had a range or problems including disabled access issues that had seriously prevented the building being used on numerous ocassions. The works expected to cost around 700,000 will include the installation of a lift for wheel chairs and work in the main meeting rooms and re- wiring along with changes to offices and making the building fit for purpose and adding to its usability. Whilst the works are seen as part of the changes to the way the council works in connection with the new council offices planning it was felt that the premises should be dealt with in order that they should not be left out of use as the new developments came along.

This work is expected to begin in the next few months.

 

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