County Council “starting to resemble Fawlty Towers” says West Sussex Labour as £24K aborted office move costs revealed 

Labour West Sussex councillors are criticising the Tory leadership for cutting services while presiding over the incompetent spending of public money, following revelations that the county council spent over £24,000 on an office move for senior executives that never took place.

In an answer to a Freedom of Information request, Tory-run West Sussex County Council has admitted the exhorbitant costs involved in the office move of the Chief Executive and other senior officers that commenced in September 2019.

The move of senior management into the 1st floor west wing of County Hall has now been cancelled.  It has instead been decided to turn this area into a hot desking area to increase capacity on campus, despite no evidence being given to councillors that there was a demand for such an additional area.

  • The cost of the work undertaken to date has been disclosed to be £24,346.54 (£7,184.54 in consultancy fees and £17,162 in building costs).
  • The move comes some years after an original move to bring the Chief Executive and senior directors together in an open plan office was reversed after barely a month, as the previous arrangements were judged to have worked better.
  • This new revelation comes at a time that the county council has also been forced to admit that it has spent over £36,000 on a drone that has never been flown, and over £300,000 in office furniture in the past two years.  Adding these sums to the latest example of questionable spending amounts to over £360,000 – a sum of money that could easily have paid for the library service, for example, to continue to run for over two years without any cuts to the current service, or alternatively keep the existing mobile library service running for nearly four years.
“This council is starting to resemble Fawlty Towers, with the number of inept decisions which keep coming to light." Cllr Michael Jones
Cllr Michael Jones

Labour Group Leader on West Sussex County Council Michael Jones (Southgate and Gossops Green) said: These were perfectly good offices that didn’t need any work whatsoever done on them.  Yet another outrageous failure by West Sussex County Council, the ultimate example of an organisation that is penny wise and pound foolish! 

“This is all money that could have been spent on front line public services, like keeping our mobile library service running, instead of getting rid of it, as they plan to. 

“How on earth does it cost that much to remove some partition walling and what did it take over seven thousand pounds’ worth of consultants to work out how to do it?  

“This sort of example of the Tories wasting council taxpayers’ money is something that residents will find immensely annoying.  Added to the recent news about the West Sussex drone that has never been used, this is yet another case of mismanagement at the heart of County Hall.”

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