Community News asked residents if they had any questions they wanted to ask of Conservative candidates before the local elections on 5 May. Over the next few days we will be featuring some of those questions and the answer.
Mr S of Valley Gardens ward asked about the future of the Harrogate Civic Centre once the new North Yorkshire Council is formed.
RESPONSE: The Civic Centre took different council buildings, old and energy inefficient buildings, and moved them to one purpose-built modern building. Everyone knows that running several buildings is more expensive than running one and the move has saved Harrogate Borough Council about £1m every year. With decreasing budgets this has been money that has been used to keep services we value running.
In addition the sale of the surplus buildings has generated a capital receipt which has substantially offset the build cost of the Civic Centre meaning that within the next twelve months when combined with the year-on-year savings – in purely financial terms – it seems likely that the Civic Centre will have paid for itself.
The surplus buildings are now being renovated and retro-fitted using private cash and brought back into use as offices and residential properties. This will generate further economic activity in our town centre.
Even after the new council is formed in April 2023 services will still be delivered in Harrogate and Knaresborough and the new council will need offices from which to deliver those services. It has already been confirmed that the Civic Centre will be the hub for the new authority in our area providing the services it currently provides such as council tax, planning, benefits, housing and so on.
Clearly there will not still be a Chief Executive and directors of departments permanently based there but this is a small number of the hundreds of staff who work at the Civic Centre. This assumes that the new council does not choose Harrogate to be its main headquarters which remains a possibility.