Council admits understating cost of new office

Bradley Stoke Town Council's new office building at the Jubilee Centre.

Bradley Stoke Town Council has admitted that its latest newsletter understates the cost of building its new office at the Jubilee Centre.

The latest edition of the glossy 8-page newsletter, delivered to all homes in the area over the last few weeks, puts the “total expenditure to date” at £293,461 but enquiries by The Journal have revealed that this figure doesn’t include thousands of pounds spent on architect’s fees and other costs associated with obtaining planning permission for the project.

Responding to The Journal, Town Clerk Sharon Petela said:

“The expenditure to date reflects the build costs and does not include the initial project costs from 2010 & 2011. These project costs will be included within the final report when it becomes available.”

According to the article, a final report is due to be issued in “July/August, when all costings have been received and confirmed”.

Minutes of a meeting held in February 2011 show that Councillors approved a quote for £5,455 from a local architects firm to take the proposals through to the planning stage, while correspondence on South Gloucestershire Council’s planning portal confirms payment of a £502 application fee.

Figures in the newsletter predict that a saving of £28,816 will be made over the first ten years of the building’s existence but the analysis fails to include the fact that an estimated £82,000 of money held in the Council’s reserves has been spent on the project. A quick calculation suggests that with the expended reserves included, savings will not be realised until 2024.

Once the break-even date has passed, the Council says it will make savings of £28,927 p.a., this being the amount it previously paid in rental and service charges for its former rented premises, although that analysis appears to ignore costs for management and maintenance that will now fall to the Council instead of a landlord.

The article also claims that the building has been completed at a lower cost than was originally budgeted, although a look back to the previous newsletter published in February, which devoted two whole pages to the project, confirms that estimated build costs have risen from £292,000 to £300,245 in the space of five months.

A further £11,075 has been spent on removal costs and refurbishment of the Council’s former rented office, a figure that could have been much higher had Community Payback personnel not been available to carry out some of the work.

In related news, there seems to have been a breakdown in communication between the Town Council and the local police force over a possible relocation of the Bradley Stoke police team’s ‘beat post’, currently located at the Willow Brook Centre, to the new Council office.

The Council currently makes a financial contribution to cover the business rates for the beat post but that two-year arrangement ended on 31st March this year. The Council’s Strategic Plan, last updated on 14th March, states that provision has been made for the beat post to be relocated to the new Town Council office, which would save the Council the cost of the business rates.

Perhaps unaware of the Council’s wishes, the police have recently written to ask about a renewal of the business rates subsidy.

Speaking at the July Full Council meeting, Cllr Ben Walker suggested that no further payments be made to the police and they should be asked when they are moving to the Jubilee Centre.

Cllr Rob Jones, who didn’t support the building of the new office at the Jubilee Centre, questioned the need for the police to move, arguing that people have become familiar with its current location.

And in a further complication, Town Clerk Sharon Petela added that she wouldn’t be happy asking her staff to take messages for the police should they take space at the new office.

To resolve the situation, Councillors decided to invite the District Commander, Neighbourhood Team Inspector and (possibly) the Chief Constable to attend the August Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday 15th August “to discuss the possibility of the police having a permanent base at the new Town Council office”.

Related links:

Official opening of the police beat post at the Willow Brook Centre.

Photo 1: Bradley Stoke Town Council’s new office, now open at the Jubilee Centre.

Photo 2: Official opening of the police beat post at the Willow Brook Centre in January 2011.

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  1. Having the police station in the council office is plain wrong. We’re already set to have politicians in charge of the police through the new police commissioners. The last thing we want is busy body small town councillors peering over the shoulders of our cops telling them what to do.

  2. I am sure the next issue of BSTC’s newsletter will contain a front page correction…..

    Or maybe that space is needed for another whole-page organisation chart

  3. the Council says it will make savings of £28,927 p.a., this being the amount it previously paid in rental and service charges for its former rented premises, although that analysis appears to ignore costs for management and maintenance that will now fall to the Council instead of a landlord- does the council have figures on the costs? And could the people get a straight answer to how much this will cost them.

  4. What ever the level of politician, big time Charley or small time ego, all politicians remarkably have a gift to “distort” the facts! It’s in their DNA
    It doesn’t matter what political leanings or persuasions, they share a common bond that allows them to get away with things!
    No surprises!

  5. Ever wondered how much it costs the Town Council to produce and deliver its glossy newsletter? Data published on the Council’s website shows that, for the July edition, costs were: £1,799 to print 9,250 copies and £972 to deliver 9,000 copies, i.e. a total of £2,771, which excludes the cost of any officer time used in gathering and editing the copy.

    UPDATE: Just realised that the above are the prices for the July *2011* newsletter.

    Costs for July 2012 newsletter have not yet been released. January 2012 was more: £2,955 to print and £972 to deliver = total of £3,967.

  6. With respect to the Newsletter, why not produce an online copy.

    Cheaper and Greener.

    Those who want to read the newsletter will, this will avoid a waste of resources on people who cannot be bothered to read it

  7. Thanks for that snippet SH, yet another example of a saving that could be made but won’t as BSTC love to blow their own trumpet, especially when someone else (i.e. us) is footing the bill.

  8. I’m not 100% sure, but I think councils have some sort of legal duty to provide delivered information booklets at least once per year, so that residents without access to the internet get information about how to access council services.
    Correct me if I’m wrong….

  9. Erm, who’s the chair of finance?

    And the deficit increased yesterday?

    Sad news. Nothing to celebrate there.

    Lights cigar. Shakes head. Sighs. Passes pipe of peace.

    I will not judge my neighbour till I have walked the path of life in their moccasins. x

  10. The official opening of Bradley Stoke Town Council’s new office will take place on Wednesday 15th August as the last item on the agenda of an “extra” meeting of Full Council called by Mayor Charlotte Walker. The press and public are invited to attend.

  11. Reading over the past posts this shows for me that this council has got its priorities wrong. To spend such a large sum of money on a building that isn’t bring extra services into the community makes no sense. Now we see the argument that it makes financial sense, also makes no sense.
    Furthermore, while the council spends hundreds of thousands of pounds on this building, Bradley Stoke still has no official youth centre. While the substitute youth centre is under threat, you would think that it would make more sense to build a community centre, for which the whole community could benefit from, and have the youth centre within.This is another slap in the face to the youth within Bradley Stoke

  12. The Editor would like to apologise for misleading the Bradley Stoke public into thinking that the new Town Council office would be officially opened tonight. Silly me for thinking that an item labelled “Bradley Stoke Town Council office Official Opening” on the agenda for tonight’s ‘extra’ Full Council meeting actually meant that an opening ceremony would take place there and then. It turns out that it was just a discussion on who should be invited to open the office and how much of a fanfare should be made about it. A full report on the farcical 20-minute debate will appear in due course. Total public attendance at tonight’s meeting: two regulars (including the Editor) plus the Conservative candidate for the forthcoming Meadowbank parish ward by-election.

  13. Sshhh. They’ve all gone quiet over here. How about Boris Johnson, surely only he can save them now? Man the lifeboats the rest of you.

    Nigel Farage would be interesting tho’…

    Or Johnny Depp in his current troubled role as Tonto.

    I have a suggestion for the Lone Ranger btw. Humourless – moi??

    Walk a mile in my shoes Roger.

  14. Nice to see our old friend Dave Tiley is still up for it – posting on his ‘local’ journal. This is exactly the sort of incisive comment we need here – please see his posting above. I am concerned however that the strain is beginning to show in his attempts at humour so I would suggest a long spell of R & R – preferably for about 5 years.

    With regard to postings I notice that the Journal is boasting that 368 people ‘like it’ on Facebook. Congratulations !! Thats nearly 1.5 percent from an estimated rising population of nearly 25000. So not many to go then.
    And where would the Jounal be without postings from that well known Bradley Stoke resident Dave Tiley, not to mention the Editors alter egos – aka Toxteth O’Grady for one. Well done to Patchway Dave and other fictious postings.

    With regard to the opening of the new Council building we did consider asking Julian Assange,as a champion of freedom of information, to open it but he rang to say he was a bit tied down at the moment.

  15. Roger, you’re too generous with your praise. Only 358 Facbook ‘likes’ when I last checked!

    As you’ve raised the subject of readership, Google Analytics tells us that the Bradley Stoke Journal had a monthly average of 15,871 unique visitors over the period May to July 2012. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

  16. Ah Roger you’re back, and still supporting free speech I see!

    Wonderful! As for aliases and fictitious postings, nowt to do with me, I face up, just like you. They are traceable by IP patterns and behaviours.

    On this subject I notice the Bristol Post suffers this the most from Filton Conservative Supporters, many made up people there, I have the details on them, but it’s best left, just how bizarre can you get, and sorry I’m just not as funny as you Roger. Accountants usually hide their quirks, so thanks for sharing here, yee haw!

  17. Stephen Who am I to challenge Google but I would be absolutely amazed if you had that number of hits in a year – let alone a month. This does not tally with my experience – most people I speak to are bilsfully unaware of even the existence of your ‘rag’. In the words of Bill Deeds ( as characterised in Private Eye ) ‘Shurely there must be shome mishtake ‘.

    This of course would tally with your fictitious postings and equally fictitious headlines, the one under which we are posting being a prime example.

    Nice to hear from you Dave. Are you well?

  18. Roger

    Your attacks on this Journal, its editor, your critics and anyone who disagrees with you are incredible and say much about you.

    I won’t defend SH in the interest of neutrality, and he doesn’t need me to, I don’t know him either, but fictitious postings and headlines, what on earth do you base that on??!!

    Yes I am well, but clearly not as well as you, I can see where you are going with that line btw, again, it says much about you and where you align yourself and who with, the more I meet local Conservatives like yourself, the less I like, some people call you the nastys for some reason.

    I’ve had nothing back from SGC regards yourself yet, have you? I urge you to read the American Website you reached, its on here somewhere, I thought it summed you and your ‘humour’ up very well. Keep digging.

  19. Rather than going on about conspiracy theories about the number of people viewing this website, or somehow believing their to be fake accounts, perhaps more focus on the article above. Maybe if their had been that focus in the first place we wouldn’t all be looking at £300k been spent which has done nothing to develop the Bradley Stoke area. I again ask how much money will be used on maintaince, why there is still no youth centre, why you deem this a success while youth provision has been cut by £38k? While at the same time I also here your still happy to promise you won’t raise local council tax for Bradley Stoke, which is commendable. However, again looking over the figures you would again be setting a negative budget, because you have failed to make any savings now. While as the article above explains those so called savings you talk about will not be a saving for atleast 10years. Now I’m sure your very busy making detailed plans on how you, and the town council, are to make savings to enable to you to keep your promise of a no council tax raise, I will of course be watching to see what practical measures you put in place to serve the people best….

  20. Good questions Jon but I dbout if the squabblers will deign you with a response, not when there’s petty point-scoring to be made.

    Their behaviour is worthy of a primary school playground.

  21. Well, well, well Roger. What a happy soul you are.

    I can confirm I am not Stephen. Although you probably won’t believe a word of it anyway.

    But it does say a heck of a lot about you that you’re unwilling to engage in a positive fashion with independent local media. Instead, you are kicking out at any criticism. Something to hide?

    Well done for reading and quoting Private Eye, by the way. You absolutely went up in my estimation for your intellect there …………. (!)

  22. Well of course nothing will be said, however I have just seen that the Tory councillors are campaigning against youth cuts in Bradley stoke, youth cuts, I couldn’t make it up. I’m amazed by the total lack of responsibility of their decisions, let’s not for get Rob Jones tweeting ‘no protesters yet must mean we’re not cutting far enough’. Jokes aside it was the Tory and Lib dems that voted in £32 million in cuts without saying where those cuts would fall. Now they say they are campaigning to save youth services, wake up. As I have said before this is a slap in the face to the youth of Bradley Stoke.

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