Derbyshire County Council to close all 10 of its Chesterfield area offices and move 500 staff to save money

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Derbyshire County Council is set to close all 10 of its Chesterfield area offices and move more than 500 staff into one new building in a bid to save money.

The council has been reviewing the number of buildings it owns for years and that process sped up with the increase of home-working through and after the pandemic.

Last month it announced it was marketing its own headquarters at County Hall in Matlock, potentially as a hotel, and now the Local Democracy Reporting Service can exclusively detail it is closing all 10 of its Chesterfield offices, including one in Staveley and one in Clay Cross.

The 10 offices that will be closed are:

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Derbyshire County Council is set to close all 10 of its Chesterfield area offices and move more than 500 staff into one new building in a bid to save money, including in the Market Hall in Chesterfield.Derbyshire County Council is set to close all 10 of its Chesterfield area offices and move more than 500 staff into one new building in a bid to save money, including in the Market Hall in Chesterfield.
Derbyshire County Council is set to close all 10 of its Chesterfield area offices and move more than 500 staff into one new building in a bid to save money, including in the Market Hall in Chesterfield.
  • Market Hall, Chesterfield

  • Offices at School Road

  • Former Hasland Youth Centre

  • West Street Offices

  • Peter Webster Centre

  • Hunloke Centre

  • Brimington Centre

  • Chesterfield Community Centre (Tontine Road)

  • Offices at High Street, Staveley

  • Clay Cross Resource Centre

The county council, which owns some of the offices outright, says it is still deciding on the future use of the properties it is moving out from and will not disclose what these uses could be.

More than 500 county council employees are set to be moved into a new office block in Dock Walk, off Boythorpe Road, which used to be occupied by the Royal Mail.

Council staff will take up two floors in the new Dock Walk building, covering 35,000 square feet and many will work from home for several days each week, the authority says.

Last month it announced it was marketing its own headquarters at County Hall in Matlock, potentially as a hotel, and now the Local Democracy Reporting Service can exclusively detail it is closing all 10 of its Chesterfield offices, including one in Staveley and one in Clay Cross.Last month it announced it was marketing its own headquarters at County Hall in Matlock, potentially as a hotel, and now the Local Democracy Reporting Service can exclusively detail it is closing all 10 of its Chesterfield offices, including one in Staveley and one in Clay Cross.
Last month it announced it was marketing its own headquarters at County Hall in Matlock, potentially as a hotel, and now the Local Democracy Reporting Service can exclusively detail it is closing all 10 of its Chesterfield offices, including one in Staveley and one in Clay Cross.

Other public sector organisations are being given the opportunity to take the rest of the building, the council says.

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Staff that use the 10 offices that will be closed have been told about the decision, council officials say, and the authority will be contacting community groups that also make use of some of the properties.

Unions representing council staff claim employees have not been informed and neither were their representatives.

Council officials say the adult education centre currently run from the Hunloke Centre, which is being closed, will move to the new Dock Walk premises, as will the Day Centre in West Street, which will also be closing.

The move will see the council save at least £30,000 a year on running costs and £6 million in “maintenance liabilities”, it says, and if properties are sold it would make further financial gains.

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Overall the actual move from the offices to the new building would cost “around £40,000,” the council says.

Councillor Simon Spencer, the council’s deputy leader, said: “We are working out of 10 different buildings across Chesterfield, which is just not economic.

“By moving into the former Royal Mail office block on Dock Walk, off Boythorpe Road we can generate efficiencies, by saving on IT, facilities and maintenance and give our employees a much better environment to work in.

“Most of our office-based employees work from home several days a week, so we are confident that this new office block will give us the space we need for people to work flexibly.

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“It will give our Adult Education Service a great place to deliver the many training courses that they offer to the public and offer a great new home for the day centre we run on West Street.”

Finbar Bowie, on behalf of trade union GMB, said: “Derbyshire County Council must urgently provide clarity on what these plans would mean to local communities and hard-working staff.

“Local people in north Derbyshire deserve urgent answers on what impact any closures would have on vital services in our community.

“Ten closures in a ten-mile radius will surely impact how residents access services. We’re calling on council top brass to answer community concerns urgently.

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“GMB members keep vital services running across our county. To drive through dramatic changes with barely a nod to the needs of its dedicated and committed staff would be a disgrace.”

David Ratchford, East Midlands regional organiser for trade union UNISON, said: “This is news to the staff and us.

“Derbyshire County Council can’t just relocate 500 members of staff without proper consultation.

“Changing someone’s place of work isn’t merely an administrative exercise; it needs to be properly thought through.

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“Derbyshire County Council have failed to communicate this in advance to staff or their respective trade unions, and UNISON is extremely concerned at the council’s lack of transparency.

“We’re asking the council to urgently meet with us to address issues such as commuting and travel time, working practises, and maintaining reasonable adjustments that are already in place for some staff.”

The new premises at Dock Walk is owned by FI Real Estate Management, which also owns the historic derelict Belper Mills complex.

It is dubbed “The HQ” in marketing material and boasts two four-storey office blocks totalling 97,686 square feet, with a total of 818 “workstations”, “from £200 per person per month”, with 326 parking spaces, showers and air conditioning.

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Until now the county council has been carrying out decisions relating to the Chesterfield area office closures in complete privacy, away from the public and press.

On June 15, Cllr Spencer approved the “rationalisation of the council’s property assets in Chesterfield into one newly refurbished asset on Boythorpe Road, Chesterfield” but no further detail was provided in public with the report and all six documents relating to it marked “restricted” and not disclosed.

The day before, on June 14, the county council announced it was officially marketing its 156-year-old Matlock headquarters and asking developers and hotel operators for their ideas.

It has owned the former spa since 1955 and is also considering flats, offices, arts studios and community facilities for the premises.

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The council would remain on site, either in the current complex or a “new, low energy building” in a much smaller capacity, regardless of whichever plans are taken forward, Cllr Spencer had said.

The future use of County Hall has been touted for years with the costs of maintenance and energy bills associated with the sprawling complex increasing.

Meanwhile, the council has already moved out of its sprawling Chatsworth Hall campus, also in Matlock, which is currently being rented out to community and other public service groups.

Over the current financial year the county council is needs to make £16.2 million in budget cuts and a combined total of £46.7 million over the next five years – having already cut more than £300 million since 2010, amounting to nearly half of its entire annual budget.

This year its overall spending budget is £675 million, with most going towards social care for children and adults.