Oxford City Council is considering moving its office based staff out of its St Aldates Chambers premises freeing up the space so that it can be leased to another organisation
With so many staff now working remotely, the City Council had already closed two floors of the St Aldates Chambers building with the intention of renting out the space. The City Council has now had an offer for lease of the entire building which would give a considerably greater financial return.
The Council’s face-to-face customer services had already moved out of St Aldates Chambers in January to a new location at Oxford Central Library.
Moving to the Town Hall
The City Council is now planning to move its entire St Aldates operation to the Town Hall, many parts of which are currently under-used and with some adjustments can provide the office capacity that is needed. The move to the historic, late-Victorian, Town Hall will see the building return to its Council headquarters role whilst maintaining its other much-used functions as a concert and events venue, a café, and being home to the Museum of Oxford. New life will be breathed into the atmospheric character of the building’s interior as it provides modern accommodation for those City Council functions which cannot operate remotely.
The additional income from letting out St Aldates Chambers comes at a critical time for the Council, as it prepares its Budget for 2023/4 and subsequent years. The pressures of the last 12 years of austerity, Brexit, the pandemic, and now soaring inflation and energy costs have had serious negative effects on finances.
Oxford is a well-run council financially and past prudence had ensured that it was able to stave off these adverse effects for the last few years. However, the City Council must continue to consider new ways of generating income to provide the best level of services possible to the residents and businesses in the city. Reducing floor space will also help reduce the Council’s energy costs and carbon footprint. Preparations for the move will start this month.
No impacts on the public are anticipated from this move, and the move is the subject of close dialogue with staff trade unions.
“St Aldates Chambers has long served the City Council as a suitable building to operate from, but times have changed. The pandemic brought about new ways of working, with many staff working from home for part of their time, while coming into the office when necessary.
“With fewer staff needing to come into the office on a daily basis, it makes sense to find an alternative use for the building and consolidate our offices in the Town Hall. The pressures of the last 12 years of austerity, Brexit, the pandemic, and now soaring inflation and energy costs have had serious negative effects on our finances. This solution will not only save the council money, but will also provide a welcome income stream to help fund our public services at a time when money is tight.”
Councillor Ed Turner, Cabinet Member for Finance and Asset Management