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County reveals plan to relocate HQ in bid to save £10m

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Surrey CC has revealed proposals to move staff from its current headquarters as part of significant reduction in the buildings it uses.

A report to be considered by cabinet on 30 April states the plan to relocate away from buildings in Kingston, which has been outside the county since boundary changes in 1965, to a new “civic heart” closer to residents. This would see council reduce the buildings it uses from 300 to 100 by the end of 2020 as part of a wider strategy to reduce property costs by £10m within three to five years.

The proposal is part of a bid to introduce more “agile” ways of working with flexibility for staff to work within communities, including shared office space with district and borough councils.

A programme board has been established and begun work on the proposed relocation, while discussions with district and borough councils has seen Guildford and Woking emerge as leading options for the new offices.

A detailed analysis of the sites is due to be considered by cabinet in July and an appraisal of the future of the current county hall has identified a range of options, including maintaining the building as hub for council meetings and business or selling or developing it for homes, a hotel or offices.

Cabinet will consider a proposal to allocate £538,150 to develop a full proposal.

Surrey leader Tim Oliver (Con) said the council has listened to worries about council buildings sitting empty.

He added: “These papers add up to a council with a clear vision of a successful county. However, we can’t secure a better future for Surrey on our own.

“We must continue to build effective partnerships and improve how we work with borough and district councils while also helping communities to look after themselves and others.”

In February, Cllr Oliver admitted the council had not done enough in the past to ensure it is financially sustainable.

A resilience report by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy last year concluded that the council was facing a budget gap of £86m by the end of 2019-20.

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