New £120m Croydon Council HQ is for 'the community', say bosses
Council bosses defended their £121m spend on their controversial new HQ as the building opened to the public this week.
Bernard Weatherill House, which is due to open officially on November 19, is being presented as a facility for the community not just for council workers.
On Monday the building opened its doors to residents so they could take advantage of the new look Access Croydon points, a one stop shop for a range of council services and other partners such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and Job Centre Plus.
Community groups can also use the new building by booking meeting rooms which are fully kitted out in state of the art tech free of charge.
Over the next few weeks the final few departments will move into the glass fronted building which will then mark the closure of Taberner House, the council’s home since the 1960s.
The new community hub - Access Croydon
The changes will see 11 council buildings close with services affected all coming under one roof. The council says centralising the services is one way the new building will save money long term.
It is estimated the new building cost £121m, which has been built as part of the CCURV project with John Laing.
Critics have said the building is a waste of taxpayers' money and should not have been built during such a harsh economic climate, when front-line services are being cut elsewhere.
But Director of Corporate Services Aiden McManus said that was not the case as he showed the Croydon Guardian round the new HQ, saying the council would be making £2m a year in cost savings, so the building long term would be good value for money for taxpayers.
He said: "This is probably the most cutting edge, innovative building in the local authority sphere. It is not only setting the standard in Croydon but also it is setting the standard on a national basis.
"One thing I should make clear is Taberner House is not fit for purpose."
Inside Bernard Weatherill House
Mr McManus added: "If we were to stay [at Taberner House] we would be spending in excess of £40m just to reclad and put some proper services in there. That is a shed load of money.
"I understand the short term arguments from people but we have taken a long term view. This is an exciting time."
"I would say to those who are sceptical come down here and have a look round. We will be making cost savings, we are creating sustainability, we are rationalising buildings and we are building services around our community.
"These are the facts and it is about facts at the end of the day."
View from the top floor of the new building.
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