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PLANS to demolish the Ebbw Vale Civic Centre have been given the go-ahead by Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council.

A report setting out a new council operating model and working arrangements were approved by the full council on Thursday (March 25), despite concerns over the lack of scrutiny.

The full council agreed to permanently vacate the civic centre, create a new ‘democratic hub’ at the general offices in Ebbw Vale, and a network of community hubs in libraries across the county borough.

The civic centre would then be demolished, and the land sold.

Discussing the plans Cllr Mark Holland said the civic centre is “not fit for purpose” because “it’s too big” and “things are scaling down”.

But Cllr Holland said there was still a need for a central office.

Cllr Malcolm Cross was one of several councillors who said that the issue hadn’t been given “the proper thought and planning”.

Cllr Steve Thomas put forward an amendment to defer the decision for a year so that it could be scrutinised further, but this was rejected.

A council statement on the decision says it is “great news”.

It says:

“Our office-based staff have been working remotely for over a year and in a recent survey, the staff told us that they have been more productive and most work can be successfully managed remotely.  This shows the support and effectiveness of the approach.

“As a council, we want to build on the learning and experience from operating under the pandemic restrictions. There are many benefits in moving to agile and modern working arrangements, on a permanent basis.

“We can reduce our office accommodation, reduce costs and improve residents’ access to the council services by moving these into the community.

“The benefits for staff are also clear including improving work/life balance and making us an employer of choice. It will in many cases reduce or remove the daily commute to work which will help with our decarbonisation commitments.

“This in turn reduces the time and the cost of travel to work as well as increasing the flexibility of how and where we work.”

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