Covid-19: Hertfordshire County Council considers partial sale of headquarters

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image copyrightGeograph/Jack Hill
image captionHertfordshire County Council said sections of the County Hall estate in Hertford could also be leased or redeveloped

A council is considering selling part of its headquarters as most of its staff have been working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hertfordshire County Council said sections of County Hall in Hertford could also be leased or redeveloped as part of a review of working practices.

Prior to March 2020 more than 2,000 staff used the building each day.

Councillor Ralph Sangster said he thought the building would not "look the same in five years' time".

The authority had already been looking at new working practices and reducing building costs, but the experiences of remote working during the pandemic had sped up the process, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

It has included flexible working environments, sharing buildings and a new asset management plan in its budget proposals for 2021/22.

Financial savings

A report produced for a cabinet meeting says the "ways of working prioritise outcomes over locations".

"Many of us will work at home or in the community, combined with using office spaces when we need them," the report says.

"With this flexibility comes better work/life balance, a reduced environmental impact, financial savings, and opportunities to deliver services differently to better meet the needs of a changing Hertfordshire."

Conservative councillor Mr Sangster, the executive member for resources, said any plans must recognise the "history" of the building and he did not expect the authority to "walk away from County Hall".

He drew a distinction between the original 1939-built building and more recent extensions which could be used "for other things".

"I think the County Hall estate won't look the same in five years' time," he said. "We won't be occupying all the buildings we currently occupy."

Resources director Scott Crudgington stressed technology would need to be right and buildings adapted before changes were made.

A council spokesman said "no specific proposals for county hall have yet been put forward - nor are imminently being considered".

"A whole range of financial-related measures have been proposed for the next four years in the council's Integrated Plan and residents can have their say via the budget consultation."

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