Civic Centre's £4m revamp set to start

Southend Civic Centre's £4m revamp set to start

Southend Civic Centre's £4m revamp set to start

First published in Echo News by

A £4MILLION revamp of Southend’s Civic Centre to improve its public areas will start next month.

The changes to the council offices, in Victoria Avenue, are designed to make it easier for residents to talk to officials and get help.

They include a new refreshment and meeting area, capable of seating 50 people, a bigger customer service area, with twice as many self-service terminals, and an extra marriage room.

The work is the latest stage of a £35million revamp to bring the 50-year-old building up to date, and should be finished by September.

The council has spent £15million on parts of the Civic Centre tower used by its back office staff.

Council leader Nigel Holdcroft said: “So far, we have concentrated on the back office areas.

“As well as making the offices more cost-effective to run, the work has also enabled us to accommodate far more of our staff in the Civic Centre, resulting in significant savings.

“We are now turning to the customer and public parts of the building, which will help us improve arrangements for residents who visit in person with queries, and also improve the wedding and other areas which are used by the public.”

A new “pavilion” area, offering wireless internet access, a refreshment stall and seats for 50 people will be built in an unused quadrangle between the customer service area and the register office.

The council’s main customer service centre will face the pavilion, and it be given a bigger children’s play area, which can be seen from the centre’s selfservice terminals.

The terminals will also be improved to make them more private and easier for disabled people to use. The council also plans to open a new area where meetings can be held with vulnerable families. this will replace one at the now-demolished Queensway House, in Essex Street.

Most of the publicly-accessible areas between the ground and second floors, including committee rooms, toilets and the spiral staircase will be redecorated.

The long-term refurbishment will continue, with changes still to come to the councillors’ wing, and the car park.

Margaret Thatcher House, behind the main office building, is due to be demolished.

The council did consider demolishing and replacing the Sixties office complex, at a cost of £50million, or moving to a fresh site.

However councillors decided to stay put, partly to save money, and partly as a show of confidence in Victoria Avenue, where several office blocks are now standing empty.

Comments (13)

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4:50pm Wed 29 Jan 14

jolllyboy says...

i cannot believe what I am reading. With all the cut backs they are going to spend 4m on an office. Part of a 34m revamp ! It would be better spent building accommodation for the residents of this town. What we dont need is more eating areas. Right by the cycle track too, which you have to cross when coming off a bus. The only plus i can see is maybe, maybe, it may be easier to actually speak to someone in person at a drop in instead of nobody being available except by appt.
i cannot believe what I am reading. With all the cut backs they are going to spend 4m on an office. Part of a 34m revamp ! It would be better spent building accommodation for the residents of this town. What we dont need is more eating areas. Right by the cycle track too, which you have to cross when coming off a bus. The only plus i can see is maybe, maybe, it may be easier to actually speak to someone in person at a drop in instead of nobody being available except by appt. jolllyboy
  • Score: 25

7:00pm Wed 29 Jan 14

Nebs says...

Why aren't the council offices open in the evening and at weekends for staff to see local residents. It would spread the load and remove the need for more space. Not that there is a need for more space, as when I visited in December to see someone from planning there was a huge counter, loads of seats for the public with only one occupied, and only one member of staff behind the counter.There were also loads of self service terminals and not one was in use.
Something smells fishy here, work not needed but got to spend the budget before you lose it?
Why aren't the council offices open in the evening and at weekends for staff to see local residents. It would spread the load and remove the need for more space. Not that there is a need for more space, as when I visited in December to see someone from planning there was a huge counter, loads of seats for the public with only one occupied, and only one member of staff behind the counter.There were also loads of self service terminals and not one was in use. Something smells fishy here, work not needed but got to spend the budget before you lose it? Nebs
  • Score: 19

8:02pm Wed 29 Jan 14

Southchurchjon says...

This is £4million that does not need to be spent at this time. Whilst they are busy consulting on the rubbish collection services with the option of members of the community volunteering, they are quite happy to spend a staggering amount of money on something that is hardly critical to the survival of the town. Yes, let's go ahead and close children's centres, care homes, libraries etc and spend the money instead on a vanity project. Absolutely outrageous!
This is £4million that does not need to be spent at this time. Whilst they are busy consulting on the rubbish collection services with the option of members of the community volunteering, they are quite happy to spend a staggering amount of money on something that is hardly critical to the survival of the town. Yes, let's go ahead and close children's centres, care homes, libraries etc and spend the money instead on a vanity project. Absolutely outrageous! Southchurchjon
  • Score: 22

12:24am Thu 30 Jan 14

jayman says...

i thought the council had only recently, changed the layout of the public space downstairs!!! i assume they have seen sense and are replacing all those human beings who you used to be on hand to help you with civic issues... (replace the word assume with hope)
i thought the council had only recently, changed the layout of the public space downstairs!!! i assume they have seen sense and are replacing all those human beings who you used to be on hand to help you with civic issues... (replace the word assume with hope) jayman
  • Score: -1

12:30am Thu 30 Jan 14

jayman says...

“We are now turning to the customer and public parts of the building, which will help us improve arrangements for residents who visit in person with queries"

in context to the way Southend council 'handle the locals' one must consider how much a rusty steel cage actually costs? perhaps most of the four million pounds will not be spent on rusty steel cage procurement, but on instillation and consultancy fees. or perhaps most of the cash will be spent on a swanky new alfresco area for council civic centre staff and the betterment of their hour long lunch break? who knows...
“We are now turning to the customer and public parts of the building, which will help us improve arrangements for residents who visit in person with queries" in context to the way Southend council 'handle the locals' one must consider how much a rusty steel cage actually costs? perhaps most of the four million pounds will not be spent on rusty steel cage procurement, but on instillation and consultancy fees. or perhaps most of the cash will be spent on a swanky new alfresco area for council civic centre staff and the betterment of their hour long lunch break? who knows... jayman
  • Score: -1

6:46am Thu 30 Jan 14

Happy Chickie says...

extra marriage room?
extra marriage room? Happy Chickie
  • Score: 1

8:41am Thu 30 Jan 14

the citizen says...

£50m for a new purpose built facility....£35m to tart up a 50 year old building. Am I the only one who thinks they should have gone for the new build. It would be better built, environmentally friendly & money saving and they could have built it on one of the plots available over the road in Victoria Avenue. How much will we have to be spent on the structure of the 50 yr old Civic Centre which can only get more and more expensive. For the extra £15m we could have something to be proud of, more practical than a 12 story high rise building, cost less in the big picture and bring business into the local community. Short sighted decision I think.
£50m for a new purpose built facility....£35m to tart up a 50 year old building. Am I the only one who thinks they should have gone for the new build. It would be better built, environmentally friendly & money saving and they could have built it on one of the plots available over the road in Victoria Avenue. How much will we have to be spent on the structure of the 50 yr old Civic Centre which can only get more and more expensive. For the extra £15m we could have something to be proud of, more practical than a 12 story high rise building, cost less in the big picture and bring business into the local community. Short sighted decision I think. the citizen
  • Score: 6

9:18am Thu 30 Jan 14

Happy Chickie says...

Is council tax going up this year to fund this? Anyone know?
Is council tax going up this year to fund this? Anyone know? Happy Chickie
  • Score: 0

9:56am Thu 30 Jan 14

RochfordRob says...

I hadn't realised dynamite was so expensive as that's the only 'improvement' I can envisage for that awful 1960's / 70s gulag eyesore.

To put it in perpective, if they are spending 50 mil in total that's £31,250.00 per head of staff.

Outrageous.
I hadn't realised dynamite was so expensive as that's the only 'improvement' I can envisage for that awful 1960's / 70s gulag eyesore. To put it in perpective, if they are spending 50 mil in total that's £31,250.00 per head of staff. Outrageous. RochfordRob
  • Score: 3

10:48am Thu 30 Jan 14

Virtuallintu says...

4 million pounds?? And yet, Priory House has to close as it's not sustainable. Words fail me. Roll on local elections when they will discover that actions speak louder than words.
4 million pounds?? And yet, Priory House has to close as it's not sustainable. Words fail me. Roll on local elections when they will discover that actions speak louder than words. Virtuallintu
  • Score: 7

12:19pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Happy Chickie says...

Virtuallintu wrote:
4 million pounds?? And yet, Priory House has to close as it's not sustainable. Words fail me. Roll on local elections when they will discover that actions speak louder than words.
Do you really think people will vote for change? If people wanted change they would have voted for it long ago.

I agree, closing Priority House is shocking when you read things like this. I feel really bad for the older chap who was collecting signatures in the High Street a while back urging people to sign the petition to keep it open.

Loads of people signed that petition - yet is makes no difference. The council ignores anything and goes ahead with their own agenda.

Lets hope if they spends this amount of money, it won't leak like the University college and the Forum - they leak like sieves.
[quote][p][bold]Virtuallintu[/bold] wrote: 4 million pounds?? And yet, Priory House has to close as it's not sustainable. Words fail me. Roll on local elections when they will discover that actions speak louder than words.[/p][/quote]Do you really think people will vote for change? If people wanted change they would have voted for it long ago. I agree, closing Priority House is shocking when you read things like this. I feel really bad for the older chap who was collecting signatures in the High Street a while back urging people to sign the petition to keep it open. Loads of people signed that petition - yet is makes no difference. The council ignores anything and goes ahead with their own agenda. Lets hope if they spends this amount of money, it won't leak like the University college and the Forum - they leak like sieves. Happy Chickie
  • Score: 6

6:21pm Thu 30 Jan 14

jolllyboy says...

I am sure all those on low incomes who struggled to pay the 25% council tax will be delighted at the good use of their money.
I am sure all those on low incomes who struggled to pay the 25% council tax will be delighted at the good use of their money. jolllyboy
  • Score: -2

2:51pm Fri 31 Jan 14

Roch243 says...

'The changes to the council offices, in Victoria Avenue, are designed to make it easier for residents to talk to officials and get help'

And that will cost £4million will it?!!!!

What a disgrace
'The changes to the council offices, in Victoria Avenue, are designed to make it easier for residents to talk to officials and get help' And that will cost £4million will it?!!!! What a disgrace Roch243
  • Score: 1

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