Opportunities for service provision in locations across the District

J Woodward made this Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Ms Symington,

I would like to make a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. I am also making this Request under the Environmental Impact Regulations 2004 which require disclosure on the part of Local Authorities.

In the Council’s “Corporate Asset Management Plan 2009-2012”, the following “action” is stated:

“8 One stop shops: Changing public access needs, combined with an expressed vision with the systems thinking review to bring service delivery even closer to our customers has led to the identification of a need for satellite ‘one stop shops’ in our main towns. A pilot scheme is currently being considered in Exmouth. A Part B report was submitted to the Executive Board 6 August 2008.”

www.eastdevon.gov.uk-amp_2009_12.pdf

In the “Quarter 2 Performance Report 2014-15: Performance Overview, Council Promises and Key Performance Indicators” published in October 2014, it is stated:

“Office relocation project include opportunities for service provision in locations across the district as well as a transition to more effective mobile working and transfer of files to IT. Some service disruption is a potential and managed risk in the project.”

http://new.eastdevon.gov.uk/media/476265...

In a press statement dated 25th November 2014, the Council stated:

“Sites in two of East Devon’s major towns provide an ideal opportunity for the council to respond to the demand for various services. It is clear there is a need to increase service provision for housing benefits, Council Tax, housing advice and register and debt advice in both Exmouth and Honiton and there would be significant demand led presences in Sidmouth and Axminster. The council would provide surgeries in other towns as they do in Cranbrook, Seaton, Ottery St Mary, and would experiment with frequency and range of services depending on demand. In the longer term, the council needs to consider the shape of local government. A combined Honiton and Exmouth office base offers a more flexible approach to our accommodation requirements involving new and modernised offices in two locations. In a world of increasing co-operation between local authorities, a smaller headquarters and an accessible presence around the district offers a better proposition for our customers.”

http://new.eastdevon.gov.uk/news/2014/11...
http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/Ea...
http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/bre...
http://www.axminster-today.co.uk/news.cf...

The Minutes of the full Council of 17th December stated:

“Councillor Stuart Hughes referred to a motion he raised in December 2012. This was to put on hold relocation plans until the Government had ruled on the recommendations of the Michael Heseltine report ‘No Stone Unturned’. The motion was referred to Cabinet where it was deferred to await the outcome of the Knowle application and was therefore still outstanding. Councillor Hughes also suggested that the vacated site at Green Close could be explored for possible use by this Council. The amendment was put to the vote and supported with a clear majority.”

http://new.eastdevon.gov.uk/media/653927...

Lastly, in a statement to the press dated 18th December 2014, the Leader of the Council stated:

“A majority of councillors agree a combined Honiton and Exmouth office base offers a sensible approach involving new or modernised offices in two locations. A smaller headquarters and an accessible presence around the district has been the council’s aim throughout this process.”

http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/Co...

My question is as follows:

> The Council has committed itself to “satellite ‘one stop shops’ in our main towns” (2009), “service provision in locations across the district” (October 2014) “significant demand led presences in Sidmouth and Axminster” (November 2014), “surgeries in other towns as they do in Cranbrook, Seaton, Ottery St Mary”, “experiment with frequency and range of services depending on demand”, “the vacated site at Green Close [Sidmouth] ... for possible use by this Council” (December 2014), and “an accessible presence around the district”.

> The Council has carried out cost-analysis of and has provided figures for relocating its headquarters to Honiton and Exmouth:
http://new.eastdevon.gov.uk/council-and-...
http://new.eastdevon.gov.uk/news/2014/12...

> I would like to know what cost analysis has been carried out for and what figures are available concerning the Council’s stated aim of providing “one-stop shops”/“surgeries”/“accessible presence” throughout the District.

> I would like details on the following:
- the services which are already being provided in this capacity across the District;
- the towns which are being considered for new provision;
- the premises which are being used and are being considered for use in providing such services;
- the costs of renting/purchasing/upgrading buildings to be used for both current and future provision;
- staffing levels in total;
- opening hours and services provided at these “shops/surgeries”;
- the market research carried out to determine the level of “demand” both currently and in the future;
- a history of the work carried out and documentation produced since the Council’s declaration in 2009 to commit itself to such provision;
- the Council’s definition of “accessible presence”.

Thank you.
I look forward to hearing from you within 20 working days.

Yours sincerely,
Jeremy Woodward
Sidmouth

Kate Symington, East Devon District Council

Mr Woodward

I am sorry for the slight delay in responding to these requests.

Our response has been delayed due to the volume of information requested but please be advised that your requests are receiving our attention and we will respond before the end of this week (by Friday 6th February).

I trust you will bear with us and thank you for your patience.

Regards

Kate

Mrs Kate Symington
Information and Complaints Officer
East Devon District Council

01395 517417
www.eastdevon.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Kate Symington, East Devon District Council

6 Attachments

Mr Woodward

 

Thank you for your requests for information received on 3^rd January 2015.
We have aggregated these requests as there is some degree of overlap in
the information requested. We have considered your request under the
Environmental Information Regulations as the requested detail relates to
land-use and development matters.

 

1.      I would be grateful if you could remind me of the costs for the
proposed new-build headquarters at Heathpark, Honiton, which I understand
has been made publicly available

This information has not been made publicly available and is exempt from
disclosure under Regulation 12(5)(e). It is still the Council’s view that
the public interest in maintaining this exemption outweighs the public
interest in disclosing the information. It is our intention to publish
this information once its commercial confidentiality has reduced and at an
appropriate project milestone. This is most likely to be the case once
contracts have been concluded. The disclosure of this detail at this point
in time would prejudice the commercial interests of both the Council and
third party organisations. It would affect the bids we would receive for
contractual work and ultimately mean that the Council’s ability to achieve
best value for its assets or for work tendered would be compromised.

Members are fully informed about this cost detail and can use it to inform
their decision-making. These Members are elected by the public in order to
represent their views.

 

2.      What work has been carried out by the District Council to
determine the value of the proposed new headquarters at Heathpark, Honiton
once they have been built?

We will be in a better position to advise on the value once a design has
been prepared and accepted.

 

3.      What is the estimated value of the current East Devon Business
Centre at Heathpark, Honiton?

The Asset Valuation for the EDBC dated 1/4/10 was £369,000 for the land
and £681,000 for the building. The valuation is based on the RICS
Valuation Standards and those required  by the Chartered Institute of
Public Finance and Accountancy for capital accounting purposes.  The
valuation will therefore not necessarily reflect what one would expect to
achieve if the property was sold on the open market or alternative use
value. Asset valuations are undertaken on a 5 year rolling programme and
therefore the Business Centre will be re-valued this year.

4.      I would like to know what cost-analysis has been carried out and
what figures are available concerning the Council’s stated aim of
providing one-stop-shops/surgeries/accessible presence throughout the
district.

We have surgeries operating across the district and we operate these based
on demand, using our systems thinking principles.

When we have offices in Exmouth and Honiton this will change the pattern
of demand and so, just as we do now, we will review things on a dynamic
basis so that we continue to meet customer needs. Given that we are moving
out of Sidmouth, it is very likely that demand will require us to operate
a surgery here.

Doc 1 (attached) is a paper which was put together when we were looking at
Skypark and this outlines where we operate surgeries and how we imagine we
might want to expend these but our approach will always be to use demand
(evidence) rather than to make assumptions.

Advanced ICT facilities mean that our officers can increasingly work in a
more mobile way both around the district and within customers’ own homes.

Our surgeries generally take place in existing facilities such as Town
Halls.

 

5.      I would like full access to all of the Accommodation
Questionnaires for each service

These questionnaires are no longer held. We would not be seeking to make
decisions or to rely on information which is now 7 years old and not
reflective of the current position.

 

6.      I would like to have access to the full report to the executive
board dated 14^th July 2010.

This report is available here
[1]http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/relocation_r...

We have reviewed the redactions in this report and note that the redacted
information remains commercially confidential. The redacted detail
includes land and property valuations and estimated construction costs. It
is exempt under Regulation 12(5)(e) and the Council considers it is in
the public interest that the exemption be maintained. The redactions will
be removed once commercial confidentiality has reduced and at an
appropriate project milestone.

 

7.      How exactly has the Council come to the conclusion that the
existing buildings at Knowle are unsuitable?

The documents here
[2]http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/relocation_r...
address this point. We employ suitably qualified consultants to carry out
this important work rather than relying upon market research.

 

8.      I would like to have access to the complete budgetary
considerations

The Cabinet reports here
[3]http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/relocation_r...
and here
[4]http://new.eastdevon.gov.uk/media/526937...
provide as much detail as we are able to disclose publicly at this point
in time. As explained, the commercially confidential detail is exempt
under Regulation 12(5)(e) and the reports, in full, are intended for
future publication.

 

9.      I would like a copy of the masterplan

The East Devon Office Relocation Comparative Study is attached as Doc 2.
Certain sections of this document have been redacted under Regulation
12(5)(e) (commercial confidentiality). It is still the Council’s view that
the public interest in maintaining this exemption outweighs the public
interest in disclosing the information. The document includes site and
construction values which should remain commercially confidential at this
time.  Again, this information will be published at an appropriate project
milestone.

 

10.   I would like full access to the complete office re-location action
points of the office accommodation working party held on 19^th October.

The minutes and action points arising from these meetings are exempt from
disclosure under Regulation 12(4)(e). In seeking to rely on this
exception, we are mindful of the view of the Information Commissioner in
decision notice FS50498100 (March 2014). Although 11 months has passed
since this decision notice was made, we are of the view that the key point
of internal communications and the importance of the private thinking
space of the authority remain pertinent. It is still the Council’s view
that the public interest in maintaining this exemption outweighs the
public interest in disclosing the information. The project is still very
much live and the minutes also make up part of our evidence in the
on-going appeal to the First Tier Tribunal (to which you are a party) and
it would therefore not be appropriate to disclose this detail at this
point in time.

 

11.   I would like to know how Kensington Taylor refreshed their costings.

These are project management costs which are revised and updated as the
contract progresses.

 

12.   I would like to know exactly how the proposed development options
for the existing Knowle site identified Summer 2010 were identified.

This document is attached as doc 3 . It is now 5 years old and, whilst it
does not inform current decision-making, there have been some figures
redacted from this report which remain pertinent to on-going land and
property valuations and which therefore remain commercially confidential.
We will be publishing this detail at appropriate project milestones once
commercial confidentiality has reduced. Please note that this report
refers to an appendix 3. This appendix is not held by the Council and
Alder King have provided us their copy of the report which also excludes
an appendix 3. This is not an omission, it is information which is no
longer held.

 

13.   I would like to have full access to any other documentation which
Kensington Taylor prepared for and presented to the Council.

Please see (9) above. Also attached is the sequential test report produced
by KT with some redactions for commercially confidential information. This
includes references to weaknesses identified with some sites which could
affect their market value. Please note that all comments and opinions
expressed in this report were those of Kensington Taylor at that point in
time. In addition, the following documents are available with the planning
application submitted for the Knowle at [5]www.eastdevon.gov.uk. These
include:

Design and Access Statement

Waste management plan

Site maps

Heritage Statement

Statement of community involvement

 

14.   I would like full access to the documentation giving the process of
transformation from Alder King to Kensington Taylor.

There was no “transformation” from Alder King to Kensington Taylor. These
were two separately commissioned pieces of work.

 

15.   What were the specific procedures for concluding the Alder King
contract?

We never entered into a contractual relationship with Alder King and no
information is held in this respect. A copy of the consultants’ brief is
attached as Doc 5 which outlines our requirements from the preferred
consultant at that time.

 

16.   What were the specific procedures for the granting of a contract to
Kensington Taylor?

A copy of our contract with Kensington Taylor is attached as Doc 6

 

17.   Which consultants under the Knowle office review were instructed to
carry out a review of the Council’s main administrative centre?

Alder King (see point 15) above.

 

18.   Who were the consultants charged with carrying out the Knowle office
review?

Davis Langdon

 

I hope this is helpful. I am sorry for slight delay in responding to these
requests but hope you will appreciate that a huge amount of time and
effort has gone into providing this response. Some of the documents you
have referred to are now many years old but some of the information within
them remains pertinent to the live re-location project and so each and
every document must be checked and redactions made where appropriate.

 

If you feel dissatisfied with the way we have responded to your request,
please contact  our Interim Monitoring Officer, Ian Clarke, at
[6][email address] to request an internal review.

 

You may also approach the Information Commissioner for advice at
[7]www.ico.gov.uk

 

Regards

 

Mrs Kate Symington

Information and Complaints Officer

East Devon District Council

 

01395 517417

[8]www.eastdevon.gov.uk

 

 

Mrs Kate Symington

Information and Complaints Officer

East Devon District Council

 

01395 517417

www.eastdevon.gov.uk

 

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References

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