EDDC Knowle ‘move’ probe to happen says leader

PUBLISHED: 18:03 04 March 2011

CASH-strapped East Devon District Council (EDDC) will again look at moving away from its “antiquated” Knowle headquarters in Sidmouth.

CASH-strapped East Devon District Council (EDDC) will again look at moving away from its “antiquated” Knowle headquarters in Sidmouth.

As the authority last week set its budget for the next financial year, its leader, Sarah Randall Johnson, said at a full meeting of the council: “We’ll be seriously looking at the future of us staying in this building for numerous reasons.”

She said a move to a more open space office would break down the council’s “silo mentality” and save tax payers’ cash.

Councillor Randall Johnson labelled Knowle as “an antiquated building that costs a fortune to heat and run.”

Last Wednesday, EDDC set a budget featuring a string of cuts after its government formula grant was slashed by 15per cent. It was the first time this century the council has seen its government support, which is 21per cent of its overall income, reduced.

The Herald reported last year how EDDC could sell Knowle and relocate to purpose built offices elsewhere. Members held behind-closed-doors talks over the possibility of moving away from the prestigious Sidmouth base in a bid to make “substantial savings.”

Executive board members looked at several scenarios and figures relating to the use of the council offices.

EDDC chief executive Mark Williams said at the time: “The council, like any responsible private or public sector organisation– routinely checks the value of its assets and assesses whether its premises best suit operational needs.

He added: “Such a move is entirely dependent on finding alternative premises that could either be built or adapted at a cost that would make it economically sensible to vacate the building.

“Given current market values and the likely cost of relocation, it would be a close run thing as to whether a move was viable.”

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