Recovery and Reset - Building requirements and use

Marmion House

This project will see Tamworth Borough Council leaving Marmion House permanently. The possibility of moving out of the building has been on the long-term agenda for some time and the proposals could lead to savings of over £3.5m over the next five years (£10m over 30 years).

Previous stock surveys have shown that Marmion House will require capital investment alone of between £2m-£3.5m over five years and between £6.2m-£7.5m over 30 years. Once revenue costs of running and maintaining the building are added in, the costs are much greater. The building is significantly under-occupied, despite attempts to rent floors to other businesses.

The pandemic has forced the majority of Tamworth Borough Council office-based staff to mobilise to home working and this has proved successful on the whole. The footprint of the building and its prime location presents opportunities for contributing to town centre regeneration, and this will be explored further.

Tamworth Town Hall

Plans will now be progressed to use Tamworth Town Hall as the municipal headquarters of the town, where civic and council meetings would be held.

However this will require some financial investment to ensure it has the necessary technological and access requirements.

Smart working

The council will now explore options for smaller premises to allow for a combination of home-based and office-based working. Formal consultations would be carried out with members of staff over proposed new arrangements for smart working.

The pandemic has identified new ways of working which are more flexible for staff and have resulted in increased productivity.

Services have been run effectively throughout the pandemic and adapted well to the shift to homeworking and these practices can be used to inform the future plans.

Front reception and customer service offer

Another key element of the plan is the reception service offer to residents and the recommendation is for this to be improved in line with customer demand. This will include a new town centre reception with more targeted opening hours and some outreach into the community for vulnerable residents, as well as enhanced digital services.

This will begin with in-depth engagement with partners and customers, so we can better understand how services need to be tailored to support vulnerable people.

At the same time, digital services will be enhanced for people who want to be able to interact with the council at a time to suit them.

Throughout the pandemic, use of digital channels, such as web chat, increased significantly, indicating that people are willing and able to engage with the council in this way.

Protecting the most vulnerable

Helping to support the vulnerable remains a key priority for TBC. Alongside the customer services offer, we are developing a new vulnerability strategy, with relevant partners. This aims to make sure that services work hand in hand with the voluntary sector and are targeted in such a way as to reach those who need them most.

This will give us a better understanding of the varied needs of vulnerable members of the community, including those who are digitally excluded, and how they can be supported.

Some of this work has already been carried out and the strategy will involve working closely with partner agencies to develop a vulnerability action plan.

Economic Regeneration

Supporting the recovery and growth of Tamworth’s economy is another key priority for this council.

Large-scale regeneration work is continuing, including the ongoing Future High Streets Fund and Gungate Precinct projects. As part of Recovery and Reset, we will also fully explore the economic impact of Covid-19 on the town economy.

This will include building a detailed database of the work force, skills challenges and opportunities, as well as identifying the sectors that need the most support.

Financial Management and Commerciality

The financial challenges the council is facing as a result of future cuts in funding from Government were already on the horizon prior to the pandemic. The public health crisis and resulting loss in income has accelerated these issues and there is a need to tackle them now to ensure the council is in the best possible shape to meet the challenges over the next three to five years.

This project is about making sure the council is operating as efficiently as possible, including a review on fees and charges and the development of a commercialisation strategy.

Councils must become more commercially-minded in order to mitigate that loss of income and protect vital services to the most vulnerable.

Service re-design and review

This will involve an organisation-wide review of every service to identify short, medium and long term opportunities to improve delivery of those services.

It will ensure that all services are efficient, fit for purpose and meet consistent standards.