Tower-ing dilemma

PUBLISHED: 13:45 17 February 2006 | UPDATED: 21:42 28 May 2010

FENLAND District Council is looking to sub-let part of the three-storey Wisbech office complex, Exchange Tower, into which it moved 18 months ago. Councillor Geoff Harper, council leader, said only 28 staff - less than five per cent of the workforce - had

FENLAND District Council is looking to sub-let part of the three-storey Wisbech office complex, Exchange Tower, into which it moved 18 months ago.

Councillor Geoff Harper, council leader, said only 28 staff - less than five per cent of the workforce - had relocated to Wisbech.

"The council is currently exploring sub-letting space with a number of partner organisations," he said.

Fenland Council originally took over the £90,000-a-year lease on the three-storey office complex, but fewer than expected staff moved in.

The council has rented nearly 8,000 square feet of office space over the three floors and already has sub-let space to East Cambs and Fenland Primary Care Trust and Muir Housing.

Using figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, we have discovered that the council offsets a third of the cost of the lease by hiving off the ground floor to its customer care section for use as a one-stop shop.

Cllr Harper said that Exchange Tower also now housed "a first class training suite" and this would be used for both internal training and offered to outside organisations.

"Hiring out the training facilities will generate income," he said.

"Originally the council had intended to develop training facilities in Fenland Hall but opted for Exchange Tower as a more cost-effective option."

The council also says external consultants working on Wisbech's multi-million-pound Nene Waterfront development would also be using space at Exchange Tower.

A spokesman said: "The council is always looking to ensure that space is used to its fullest potential."

Councillor Roger Green of Wisbech said he had heard rumours that Cambridgeshire County Council was considering re-opening a register office in Exchange Tower, and it could possibly be used as a venue for civil weddings.

However, a county council spokesman said that although a room was used by the registrar for registering births and deaths, there were no plans to include other functions.

Fact file:

* Lease costs of the council's four one-stop shops have been disclosed by using the Freedom of Information Act.

* Fenland Council says its March shop has been acquired on a 15-year lease, at an annual rent of £31,500.

There is a break clause after five years.

* Whittlesey costs the council £20,000 a year for 10 years, with a break clause after five years.

* Chatteris has been acquired on a straight, five-year lease for £18,000 a year.

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