Town Hall set for £6m facelift

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WIGAN town hall is to undergo a controversial £6m facelift.

Up to two dozen small council satellite offices will then be closed to allow a further 500 existing staff to relocate.

Hard-pressed council chiefs say that the major structural as well as cosmetic overhaul of the century-old former mining technical college will save the authority more than £1m a year in employee and building running costs and wipe out a £4m maintenance backlog on the surplus sites.

Council leader Lord Smith presented what he called a “strong business case” for the scheme because the listed town hall now needs urgent repairs.

Recent storms saw cascades of rainwater running through sodden plaster work deep into the heart of the building.

Experts say that more than £500,000 needs to spent of the roof alone. Leader of the opposition Coun Gary Wilkes said relocating staff would hit smaller townships while Unison insisted: “Councillors should have a good look at themselves in the mirror.”

Council chiefs want to “better manage” all operational buildings, saying there are too many small back office sites which cannot be operated efficiently. They are consolidating operations into four main buildings: Wigan Town Hall, Life Centre, Leigh Town Hall plus Progress House at Westwood Park.

The plan is estimated to slash the accommodation and power costs per employee by almost a quarter. But the authority insists it won’t affect public accessibility with the local Life Centres, with libraries and sports centres unaffected.

Lord Smith said: “We want to make better use of the town hall itself. At present 230 staff are based there but smarter planning will see that boosted to 700 in the one location of the town hall by developing the building. This means improved staff networking and much more efficient use of energy, technology and other resources.”