Tenant set to move into 'oversized' Wyre Forest council base

‘WE WERE RIGHT’: UKIP’s Michael Wrench, right, leads a protest outside Wyre Forest House on its 2012 opening day.

‘WE WERE RIGHT’: UKIP’s Michael Wrench, right, leads a protest outside Wyre Forest House on its 2012 opening day.

First published in News
Last updated
Kidderminster Shuttle: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

EMPTY space is being rented at Wyre Forest House in a bid to raise council income but critics say it shows the new offices are too big.

Stoke-on-Trent College has rented a room at Wyre Forest District Council’s £10 million headquarters, Finepoint Way, as part of a plan to raise money on spare office space.

It is moving in early this month and a lease agreement has been signed for it to occupy the room for a year to use as a base in the Wyre Forest area. A council spokeswoman told The Shuttle the new tenant did not want to reveal the rental costs.

Wyre Forest UK Independence Party (UKIP) parliamentary spokesman Michael Wrench, who organised a petition opposing the building before it opened, said had council leaders listened they “would not be in this mess”.

Independent Community and Health Concern leader Graham Ballinger added it was “clear before the contracts were signed” the offices would be too big.

Conservative councillor Marcus Hart, who was the district council’s acting leader before last night’s vote for John Campion’s successor, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be welcoming Stoke-on-Trent College. We are proud of the facilities we have here and hope they settle into their new base.”

The council says the move will bring funding into the area and college staff would be working with the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership and representatives of different industry sectors to encourage economic growth. It will also work with members of the North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration team, who are based in the building.

Heather Sheldon, project manager at the college, said: “We are looking forward to moving into Wyre Forest House. We were extremely impressed with the facilities, location and the welcoming feeling from all the staff.

Council leaders announced last November, when presenting the administration’s 2014/15 budget proposals, it would look to raise council income by renting out some of the rooms currently unoccupied at Wyre Forest House.

Mr Wrench, however, said: “More than 3,500 people signed a petition saying it was a waste of money, in the wrong place and a mismanagement of public funds and now they have a building that is too big for them.”

Comments (9)

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9:34am Thu 3 Apr 14

flowerpicker says...

If the council had all this extra space then why didn't they use it for themselves instead of wasting money revamping Kidderminster Library into office space. The grand piano could have stayed where it was. If there was Council space available it should have been used at the time and saved much needed tax payers money.
If the council had all this extra space then why didn't they use it for themselves instead of wasting money revamping Kidderminster Library into office space. The grand piano could have stayed where it was. If there was Council space available it should have been used at the time and saved much needed tax payers money. flowerpicker
  • Score: 23

5:54pm Fri 4 Apr 14

Stephen Brown says...

Flowerpicker - good question and comment. Different councils involved but the main driver of it, John Campion, was at the time in charge of both issues. Everyone but the councils seemed to realise there was a way out that could benefit the community and find their savings, but we all know the council(s) struggle with any concept of joined up thinking that may actually benefit us rather than their own agenda. Despite alternatives being possible, they just love spending our money, be it on council HQ's or leisure centres.............
....
Flowerpicker - good question and comment. Different councils involved but the main driver of it, John Campion, was at the time in charge of both issues. Everyone but the councils seemed to realise there was a way out that could benefit the community and find their savings, but we all know the council(s) struggle with any concept of joined up thinking that may actually benefit us rather than their own agenda. Despite alternatives being possible, they just love spending our money, be it on council HQ's or leisure centres............. .... Stephen Brown
  • Score: 10

8:58am Sat 5 Apr 14

jon cooper says...

The new leader of WFDC, Councillor Hart, recently stated that the revamped Stourport Civic Centre would be a 'modern energy-efficient centre'. It goes to show that with a little ingenuity, great things can be made from public buildings, and at a fraction of the cost.

Taking into account the cuts in services, staff, and even councillors in the near future, only concretes the fact that 'Wyre Forest House' is way too big for purpose, and always will be. Stourport Civic Centre most certainly has scope for expansion, something of which the champions of 'Wyre Forest House' totally missed.

I'm not a member of UKIP, but again I give great credit to Michael Wrench and UKIP for being the only local political movement to actively - and most importantly DELIVER - a public petition to oppose Finepoint; something that cannot be said for actual elected bodies.
The new leader of WFDC, Councillor Hart, recently stated that the revamped Stourport Civic Centre would be a 'modern energy-efficient centre'. It goes to show that with a little ingenuity, great things can be made from public buildings, and at a fraction of the cost. Taking into account the cuts in services, staff, and even councillors in the near future, only concretes the fact that 'Wyre Forest House' is way too big for purpose, and always will be. Stourport Civic Centre most certainly has scope for expansion, something of which the champions of 'Wyre Forest House' totally missed. I'm not a member of UKIP, but again I give great credit to Michael Wrench and UKIP for being the only local political movement to actively - and most importantly DELIVER - a public petition to oppose Finepoint; something that cannot be said for actual elected bodies. jon cooper
  • Score: 8

10:53am Sun 6 Apr 14

BewdleyBugle says...

UKIP seem to have a hot line to the Shuttle's editor at the moment. Or it's just that no other party has any visible presence in the area.
UKIP seem to have a hot line to the Shuttle's editor at the moment. Or it's just that no other party has any visible presence in the area. BewdleyBugle
  • Score: 4

6:53pm Sun 6 Apr 14

Jerome K says...

Worrying if the Shuttle has sympathies for the far right UKIP party. Doesn't take a lot of intelligence to see through UKIP's antics here, but then again the Shuttle's largely an intelligent commenter free zone these days.
Worrying if the Shuttle has sympathies for the far right UKIP party. Doesn't take a lot of intelligence to see through UKIP's antics here, but then again the Shuttle's largely an intelligent commenter free zone these days. Jerome K
  • Score: -4

1:11pm Mon 7 Apr 14

HowardM says...

Ever since the new offices reached planning stage, both Labour and ICHC have consistantly campaigned against the proposals in the Council Chamber and in Scrutiny Committee - the only place this development would ever be stopped was through the democratic process in Council! Other forms of opposition had even less chance of success - as proved.
The proposal figures didn't stack up, the Council was skint, making cuts and needed to use al its Capital Reserves to pay for the building and the economy was in a mess. Labour wanted the money spent on new homes, to sell on and generate additional income to save council services and jobs - but the Tories (supported as usual by the Liberals on this issue) knew best. They were convinced the bulding, which was always too big (planned that way) could attract sub lets to underpin the running costs. No one was interested - and Stephen Brown is right - the Library Gallery Campaign (I was Campaign Chair so was directly involved) suggested the staff move into WFH instead of the Library. But WFDC obviously wanted rent from the Couny Council and the Library space was free since its a County building - so that was never a viable option and the Gallery was sacrificed to save the rent at Elgar House.
WFDC claimed savings would result on moving to the new offices, of £500k pa - this has not been achieved and scrutiny by Labour of the claimed savings shows them to be well under £100k pa - much in line with the figures we suggested would be the savings before the final decision to build was taken.
At the last Council meeting I moved a Motion on behalf of Labour suggesting the Council should investigate (only investigate) the feasibility of selling the offices to a property management company and leasing back the space they actually needed. The capitalisation of the asset would restore millions of pounds back to Council to reduce its borrowings and provide money to build new houses ( again an income provider). I reiterate - the proposal was to investigate - had it proved unviable there was no commitment on Council to follow it up. However the Tories and Liberals voted against the proposal, so it wasn't adopted, nor were potential benefits even investigated. Had it been it would have offered a host of options to Council on savings and potential consequential investment in the local economy.
So, yes UKIP can try the populist line of protest and media coverage but the real, in council, activity to unpick this "white elephant" of a building is only really being taken by the Labour Party.
Oh yes, by the way - the debate on this Labour motion was nearly an hour long and stimulated lots of interest in the Chamber - it was a very major item on the agenda. Did it receive comment in the Shuttle? Not one word! Completely ignored! Call me cynical, and I'm sure some will, but, at the moment, if UKIP blow their nose it gets a headline!
Ever since the new offices reached planning stage, both Labour and ICHC have consistantly campaigned against the proposals in the Council Chamber and in Scrutiny Committee - the only place this development would ever be stopped was through the democratic process in Council! Other forms of opposition had even less chance of success - as proved. The proposal figures didn't stack up, the Council was skint, making cuts and needed to use al its Capital Reserves to pay for the building and the economy was in a mess. Labour wanted the money spent on new homes, to sell on and generate additional income to save council services and jobs - but the Tories (supported as usual by the Liberals on this issue) knew best. They were convinced the bulding, which was always too big (planned that way) could attract sub lets to underpin the running costs. No one was interested - and Stephen Brown is right - the Library Gallery Campaign (I was Campaign Chair so was directly involved) suggested the staff move into WFH instead of the Library. But WFDC obviously wanted rent from the Couny Council and the Library space was free since its a County building - so that was never a viable option and the Gallery was sacrificed to save the rent at Elgar House. WFDC claimed savings would result on moving to the new offices, of £500k pa - this has not been achieved and scrutiny by Labour of the claimed savings shows them to be well under £100k pa - much in line with the figures we suggested would be the savings before the final decision to build was taken. At the last Council meeting I moved a Motion on behalf of Labour suggesting the Council should investigate (only investigate) the feasibility of selling the offices to a property management company and leasing back the space they actually needed. The capitalisation of the asset would restore millions of pounds back to Council to reduce its borrowings and provide money to build new houses ( again an income provider). I reiterate - the proposal was to investigate - had it proved unviable there was no commitment on Council to follow it up. However the Tories and Liberals voted against the proposal, so it wasn't adopted, nor were potential benefits even investigated. Had it been it would have offered a host of options to Council on savings and potential consequential investment in the local economy. So, yes UKIP can try the populist line of protest and media coverage but the real, in council, activity to unpick this "white elephant" of a building is only really being taken by the Labour Party. Oh yes, by the way - the debate on this Labour motion was nearly an hour long and stimulated lots of interest in the Chamber - it was a very major item on the agenda. Did it receive comment in the Shuttle? Not one word! Completely ignored! Call me cynical, and I'm sure some will, but, at the moment, if UKIP blow their nose it gets a headline! HowardM
  • Score: 3

1:57pm Mon 7 Apr 14

Shibdrift says...

"joined up thinking"!!!!!!!!
What makes you think councillors can think at all?!!!!
"joined up thinking"!!!!!!!! What makes you think councillors can think at all?!!!! Shibdrift
  • Score: 2

3:10pm Mon 7 Apr 14

Ole Timer says...

BewdleyBugle wrote:
UKIP seem to have a hot line to the Shuttle's editor at the moment. Or it's just that no other party has any visible presence in the area.
Could it be because they appear the only ones with anything sensible to say
[quote][p][bold]BewdleyBugle[/bold] wrote: UKIP seem to have a hot line to the Shuttle's editor at the moment. Or it's just that no other party has any visible presence in the area.[/p][/quote]Could it be because they appear the only ones with anything sensible to say Ole Timer
  • Score: 3

1:34pm Tue 8 Apr 14

BewdleyBugle says...

Ole Timer wrote:
BewdleyBugle wrote:
UKIP seem to have a hot line to the Shuttle's editor at the moment. Or it's just that no other party has any visible presence in the area.
Could it be because they appear the only ones with anything sensible to say
I'd hardly call their policies sensible, not that they really have any policies. Everything about the UKIP is cancel, remove, pull out, abolish, and reduce. They crudely play on people's fear of change and the future.

That said, I can't deny that they do local campaigning well, and they fill a huge vacuum left by the traditional parties who are nowhere to be seen.
[quote][p][bold]Ole Timer[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]BewdleyBugle[/bold] wrote: UKIP seem to have a hot line to the Shuttle's editor at the moment. Or it's just that no other party has any visible presence in the area.[/p][/quote]Could it be because they appear the only ones with anything sensible to say[/p][/quote]I'd hardly call their policies sensible, not that they really have any policies. Everything about the UKIP is cancel, remove, pull out, abolish, and reduce. They crudely play on people's fear of change and the future. That said, I can't deny that they do local campaigning well, and they fill a huge vacuum left by the traditional parties who are nowhere to be seen. BewdleyBugle
  • Score: 5

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