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Friday, May 20, 2022

‘No plans’ to move council meetings to new £15.7m Top Wighay office building in Linby

The new office building will be based on the Top Wighay Farm development, alongside 805 homes

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A senior county councillor confirmed there are currently no plans to move the authority’s council chamber and meetings to its new £15.7 million Top Wighay offices in Linby, but stated “nothing is off the table” at the development.

Councillor Keith Girling (Con), who oversees economic development and asset management, made the remarks following concerns the authority is planning to close County Hall or move large swathes of services to the future site.

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The new office building will be based on the Top Wighay Farm development, alongside 805 homes and local services including a school and shops.

But reports of previous comments by Cllr Girling led to some opposition concerns the authority plans to move its headquarters and other local services into the new building.

The West Bridgford-based County Hall building, which hosts a raft of services and all the authority’s political meetings, is costing the council high sums in maintenance.

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Recent documents show the council has spent just shy of £500,000 on improvements to the building since the start of the pandemic.

This includes £212,813 on flue and chimney works and £235,985 on data works since February 2020.

These sums do not include specific spending on building maintenance for County Hall.

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However, Cllr Girling has since backtracked on the County Hall comments but insists nothing is off the cards in terms of where services are delivered.

County Hall Nottingham
CONCERNS: Worries were shared that meetings could be moved so that the council’s County Hall offices could be closed
Top Wighay Farm Linby
PICTURED: (L-R) Cllr Keith Girling – chairman of Economic Development, Matt Neale – service director Growth and Investment and Steve Keating outside the new Top Wighay Farm development near Linby

And speaking in the full council meeting on Thursday (May 12), Cllr Girling said there are currently no plans to move all council services over to Top Wighay.

His comment came following a question from Cllr Helen-Ann Smith (Ash Ind), who represents Sutton North, who asked for confirmation on which services will be transferred to Top Wighay once it is built.

She also asked for clarification on whether the council chamber could be relocated.

In response, Cllr Girling told the chamber: “The services identified to be based at Top Wighay are the customer service centre, the multi-agency safeguarding hub, schools and family support services, the adult access service, integrated community loans service and the business service centre.

“There are currently no plans to move council meetings, including locating the council chamber, to Top Wighay Farm.

“With all our buildings, however, we will build with the ability to have flexible spaces that will be able to accommodate a variety of uses – should they be required in the future.”

In a follow-up question, Cllr Smith asked what the authority’s intentions are for buildings where these services are being relocated into Top Wighay – including County Hall.

Responding, Cllr Girling added: “[For] all our buildings we look at how they’re used, how they can be best utilised and that any future buildings we make can be as flexible as possible.

“I think it’s a really exciting prospect at Top Wighay with what we’re going to be doing there.

“We’re looking at all aspects of how this council operates, nothing is off the table but we will go through the proper processes to make sure – if we do move any services there – there’s a proper reason for doing that.”

Nottinghamshire County Council recently broke ground on the major Top Wighay development when housebuilder Vistry was announced as the developer for the 805 homes.

Cllr Girling said last month that Vistry has indicated the housing works could be completed within six years.

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