WIGAN Council’s new super-depot is up and running ahead of schedule.
The giant centre amalgamates all core, council services into a once mothballed former Asda clothing warehouse in Ince as part of the £3m project.
Original plans to move all staff into the Makerfield Way site in phases over a nine-month period from April has taken just over two months.
Terry Dunn, director of environment at Wigan Council, said: “The management team here who delivered this and organised the transition into here have been great.
“There has been absolutely zero impact on service provision.”
Services such as highways, street lighting, waste collection, vehicle maintenance and council house repairs have been streamlined under the one roof.
The depot will save the council £750,000 a year by slashing the costs of fuel and logistics and pay back the money it took to build in four years. The state of disrepair of the three old depots would have cost an estimated £1m to refurbish and all have now been closed and earmarked for redevelopment.
Mr Dunn said: “The old depots were reaching capacity because of the type of work they did.
“They were full so this is the size of the three together plus additional space.”
Once the finishing touches have been completed at the new site, there are ambitious plans to develop a sound business plan.
Mr Dunn said: “What we have done with the building is future proofed our growth so we’ve built some capacity in. This means as we begin to develop a company model we can expand into those areas. We are looking at what’s out in the region and what opportunities there are in terms of our ability to grow the business.
“We are not looking at local business, we have no intention of putting local business out, we want economic value to stay in the borough.”
Once an apprentice flagger, Mr Dunn beams with pride as he presents the state-of-the art facilities and improved safety measures that accommodate more than 1,200 council staff.
“There’s now a one-way system which is a lot safer and we’re building a weighbridge which helps keep employees safe and stops the drivers getting fines for overloading their vehicles,” Mr Dunn said.
The site is not only more efficient in terms of logistics but will also train staff in more than one trade and offer a number of apprenticeships.
“There will be between 10 and 20 apprenticeships here initially and then the business model will drive more apprenticeships,” Mr Dunn added.
The Confident Futures Programme will also offer training to 30 individuals a year.
This will aim to provide experience especially to those in the NEET (not in education employment or training) cohort and young offenders from Hindley Prison.
Mr Dunn said: “Wigan Council has given us the opportunity to grow and that’s our whole ambition. In a climate of cuts, this is a real chance for us to develop something.
“It’s a really refreshing change.”