April 23, 2021

Newyddion Cymru Ar-Lein : Wales News Online

Newyddion Lleol a Chenedlaethol Cymru – Local and National News for Wales

Council sets out plan to leave Civic Centre and create ‘democratic hub’

BLAENAU Gwent council has set out plans to vacate and demolish the Civic Centre in Ebbw Vale as part of new working arrangements.

A report going before full council next week sets out a new operating model and working arrangements proposed by the council.

Under the plans, the council will permanently vacate the civic centre, create a new ‘democratic hub’ at the General Offices in Ebbw Vale, and a network of community hubs co-located within libraries.

New arrangements will enable staff to work either at home, in council buildings or in the service or community.

A report says the plans have been drawn up following the changes to working practices caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which has resulted in staff working from home.

A survey of staff showed support to continue working in a more flexible way, finding this had increased productivity and reduced absence due to sickness.

“The realisation that we can run our business and deliver services in a very different way, be more in line with modern working practices and reduce our costs and impact on the environment has opened up new opportunities for us to make a step-change now and not to simply return to how we operated before,” a council report says.

The report says the changes would also be in line with the Welsh Government ambitions for 30 per cent of the workforce to work from home or remotely in the future.

“The council has an opportunity, now, to be at the forefront of delivering this national ambition by making a step-change in how we work, how we deliver services and to improve access to council businesses and services for our residents,” it adds.

The new democratic hub would be located on the first floor of the General Offices in Steelworks Road, with a similar level of office and meeting space for councillors and officers as at the Civic Centre.

It would offer improved arrangements for holding blended meetings and public access, the report says.

The hubs would be located in the main libraries at Abertillery, Brynmawr, Ebbw Vale and Tredegar, providing a range of services including benefits, council tax and community services for residents.

The new proposed working arrangements could bring savings of £1.46-million over a five-year period.

Funding of £180,000 has been agreed to cover the costs of work at the General Offices and to create community hubs.

A further £650,000 has been set aside for the demolition of the Civic Centre, which is expected to be covered by the subsequent sale of the land.

A decision on approving the new model will be made at a full council meeting on Thursday.

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