Town hall plan saves taxpayers £260,000

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WIGAN Council’s plan to cut building costs has seen a dramatic saving of up to £260,000 over the last four years.

Figures show that the authority has spent a total of £1,216,253 on renting office spaces between 2011 and 2014 – but the bill has dropped each year.

Last year the bill for renting offices was £169,841, which had dropped from £298,124 in 2013 and £310,704 the year before.

In 2011 the cost was £437,585.

The massive saving is largely attributed to its modernisation programme, which has involved cutting the number of council buildings from 24 to four.

The biggest reorganisation was the refurbishment of Wigan Town Hall, which houses 600 staff and will contribute to further savings once completed.

A council spokesman said: “We have reduced the number of buildings as part of the assets and accommodation programme.

“The modernisation programme saw a significant reduction in the number of council buildings, from 24 to four – contributing £1m per year in savings in overall running costs.

“Current running costs for 24 buildings and a backlog of maintenance work is no longer viable for the council.”

The town hall finances were laid bare last month in the Evening Post, revealing it still has to make savings of £14m this year and £12m for each of the next three financial years.

Council leader Lord Peter Smith said at the time: “Rather than make cuts across the board we opted to introduce a series of modernisation programmes to transform our services.

“We’ve saved money by changing how we work and by investing where we can in ideas that will save us money in the long-term.”

In total the council will have cut £114m from its budget since the austerity measures began in 2010.

Meanwhile, internet costs used by council staff have increased from 2011 until 2014.

In 2011/12 the bill was £1,381,513, but it shot up in 2012/13, costing £1,794,291 and again in 2013/14 the invoice was £1,765,083.

From April 2014 the figure was £1,105,760, which still has four months of charges still to add on.

A council spokesperson said: “The internet plays a crucial role in helping staff to do their jobs at Wigan Council and is used in libraries for the public to access.

“We regularly review our contract to ensure value for money.”