Does council really need extra space?

RE: The proposed relocation of council offices and disposal of Town Hall.

There have been recent pronouncements, both in the media and at public meetings, by those in authority who favour these proposals. They have placed considerable emphasis on the claimed unsuitability of the existing accommodation as well as the allegedly overwhelming support of most employees and councillors.

Having been an employee of Scarborough Borough Council for over 30 years, until my retirement, I would question these claims.

The Town Hall site in fact consists of at least 10 different elements, variously acquired, constructed, adapted or converted at different times – much of it quite recently. In fact, a large proportion of the offices have been provided within the last 10 to 20 years, to modern standards, and including mainly open plan office space – eg the York House (King Street) extension is largely “new build”, behind the restored street façade of the old brewery building. It was opened in 2004 by Prince Andrew. A large part of the 1960s King Street extension also consists of open plan space.

As a former environmental health officer, I consider that almost the entire site provides reasonable offices.

The original, early Victorian, Woodall House building together with its 1901 Council Chamber extension, which apparently “might be retained for civic purposes”, actually provide only a very small proportion of the present office space: there are a few fairly small offices as well as the notorious “bunker” in the basement, which may be rather dank, dark and less than pleasant.

I suspect that these areas may have featured heavily in the guided tours which have so impressed many councillors. It should also be borne in mind that the size of the workforce has been significantly reduced recently, thus alleviating any shortage of accommodation.

Tony Fenter

Ex-Scarborough Borough Council employee

Castle Ward

Scarborough