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Sunday, 31 August 2014

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Barrow housing department move to cost £177k

WORK to alter the inside of a town hall to make it a “one-stop shop” will cost more than £170,000.

Barrow Borough Council decided last month to move the housing department from Cavendish House in Duke Street, where it has paid £43,000 a year in rent since December 2009.

The space in the town hall has been created due to staff restructuring following government cuts to the council’s funding.

The alteration work will cost around £177,000 and should be finished early October pending listed building consent to make the changes to the Grade II* listed structure, which officially opened in 1887. Housing services are scheduled to move from Cavendish House by the end of December at latest.

The council’s housing management forum will meet on Wednesday and has been recommended to set aside £250,000 from the 2014/15 housing revenue account budget towards the cost of the relocation.

Councillor Kevin Hamilton, chairman of the forum, said: “It will be nice to have the services all under one roof for residents to access with more ease. I’m over the moon with it because it’s a one-stop shop. The rent on Cavendish House is effectively wasted money when we have the chance to move housing inside the town hall – we can spend that on other things and, as well as that, provide a more integrated service.”

Under the changes, there will be office space for housing services on the ground floor by moving existing services elsewhere in the town hall.

In his report for Wednesday’s meeting, housing manager Colin Garnett said a front desk and interview rooms will be created at the Cornwallis Street entrance.

Councillor Ken Williams, an opposition Conservative member on the forum, said: “The object is to bring services together. Cavendish House was never really suitable in that you weren’t able to have a conversation in private or gain access as easily as the town hall. It’s costing the taxpayer a vast amount of money when we’ve got all the facilities we need in the town hall. So it’s a good reshuffle and it’s going to be a much better service and easier to access.”

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