East Lindsey District Council: New hub funding loss

A planned new £8 million public sector hub for East Lindsey District Council and Boston College faces changes in its plans after being offered nearly £400,000 less funding than expected.

In a series of recommendations approved without comment on Tuesday, the authority’s overview committee sought reassurance over a number of topics including exit plans for the sales of Tedder Hall and Skegness Town Hall, COVID safety, carbon management, and staff consultation.

Members of the committee’s standing reference group had previously attended a series of “informal” behind closed doors meetings to create a report on their concerns.

A report on the meeting said the overall costs for the build, which aims to be cost neutral over 15 years, had reduced from £8.25 million to £7.98 million with £200,000 contingency planned.

It will house around 190 staff, rather then the 300 currently at Tedder Hall and bosses have previously expressed interest in changing the working culture to include more working from home or out in the community for many staff members.

Part of the build is expected to be paid for by the sale of Skegness Town Hall, valued at £500,000 and Tedder Hall in Manby at a value of £1 million.

However, the authority was not offered the £1.6 million grant from the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership it had applied for, with £1.256 million being proposed instead.

In response, the report said: “The original costs have been worked through and efficiencies found, for example permeable paving is being replaced with permeable tarmac, saving £80,000.

“There is still a contingency in the budget and potential Brexit/Covid-19 ramifications have always been kept in mind.

“As part of the lease terms with Boston college, the College has agreed to meet their own fit out costs.”

However, the report was keen to say some “savings” were “not a case of cutting costs” but were instead “going through each section of the contract and related costings and asking for changes where it is thought costs are overstated or excessive. The overall standard and specifications of the build have not been reduced.”

Councillors were told that carbon reduction measures, including LRD lighting and mechanical ventilation, will save around £130,000 a year on utility and repair costs, and that the building was “within 10%” of being able to meet targets.

The college aspect will be aimed at “aimed at adult learners and courses will focus on maths, English, health and social care, and digital literacy, all of which are key areas critical for the development of the local area” said the report.

Councillors were also reassured that staff were being engaged with and consulted on the plans, with further communications set to take place after funding was confirmed.

Following approval the recommendations will be sent to ELDC’s executive to consider.