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STEP CLOSER: Headquarters move rubber stamped as refit agreed

STEP CLOSER: Headquarters move rubber stamped as refit agreed

The council will be moving staff to Fountain Court next year from the Civic Centre, Image: Google Maps

The end of a crumbling council headquarters has moved a step closer after chiefs rubber stamped a £9m move to a new home a few hundred yards away.

Middlesbrough Council leaders took less than three minutes to agree a refit of three-storey Fountain Court at a meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

And the decision paves the way for the demolition of the Civic Centre.

The past Labour administration had wanted to move staff over to one of the new offices in Centre Square.

However, Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston halted the plans after his election in 2019 – with the authority renting out the offices to a raft of firms instead.

Council reports show the authority paid just shy of £1.85m for Fountain Court after agreeing the purchase in March.

It was initially hoped the revamp of the former call centre would sit within the £5m set aside to fit out One Centre Square.

But officials now say £7m is needed for the refurbishment – including work to sort out the windows at the Grange Road site.

Running costs of Fountain Court and the Civic Centre are roughly the same.

However, the Civic Centre has a £2m maintenance backlog which the council wouldn’t need to pay if it upped sticks.

Cllr Eric Polano, executive member for regeneration, told the chamber a detailed survey had found Fountain Court was in “generally sound condition” but had found a number of “expensive defects”.

He added: “It is therefore requested that an additional £4.438m be added to the budget to address the medium term issues so the building is fitted out to high standard.”

Past ambitions to move staff to Middlesbrough’s tallest building Centre North East were scotched after Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston feared it could cost as much as £50m.

Staff are forecast to move out of the Civic Centre in 2022 with the refit completed next summer.

Mr Preston said the council needed a new home.

“This is a great way of recycling an old building close to the Town Hall and creating a new opportunity for development on the Civic Centre site,” he added.

 

Words: Alex Metcalfe, Local Democracy Reporter


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