Fraserburgh Hospital will not be affected by Aberdeenshire Council’s Office Accommodation Strategy
There had been fears that statements made in the strategy suggested that the Broch facility could be under threat - a rumour firmly quashed by the council.
Over the coming weeks, councillors are being asked to consider proposals to drive forward customer service solutions for the 21st century.
One strand of the strategy focuses on asset management, and the council will be making moves towards reducing the number of offices it has by making better use of existing facilities.
Following an article feature dint he regional press last week in which Huntly’s Jubilee Hospital was pictured with a caption “closing time”, describing it as council premises, a number of staff and patients have been concerned about the future of the facility.
Aberdeenshire Council’s head of property and facilities management, Allan Whyte, quickly moved to dispel any doubt caused by the article.
The Jubilee Hospital and Fraserburgh Hospital – also mentioned in the report – are both owned and run by the NHS, not the council, and so it cannot take decisions on their futures.
“As stated in the report to councillors, the office accommodation to be disposed of or relinquished is council-owned or leased.In the case of both Fraserburgh and Jubilee Hospitals, the closures relate to social work offices within the hospitals, which are or have been used by council officers.
“It is unfortunate there has been this misunderstanding, but the council’s office accommodation strategy is just that – it relates to office accommodation used by the council,” he said.
“I’d like to reassure our community partners and their staff that hospitals in Aberdeenshire cannot be affected by this stream of work to rationalise the council’s office accommodation.
“The intention is to stop using offices previously used within these buildings.”
The council’s proposals are linked with its Worksmart programme which, where appropriate to their job function and with appropriate technologies, enables employees to work from a variety of locations, which for many will result in employees not having a fixed desk.
A number of business centres are also mentioned in the office accommodation strategy, but these are owned by the council and managed by Enterprise North East Trust (ENET).
Ownership of these establishments remains unchanged. In these instances the council will be relinquishing leases it has with ENET for rooms/suites within the business centres that it uses for operational purposes.
This strategy will help the authority be more efficient in its use of office space and provide an enhanced service for residents.
Over the next couple of years, the council expects to close around 25 of its buildings, saving in excess of half a million pounds every year and offering an enhanced service to customers.
There are benefits in reducing the number of offices the council has for employees too.
They will not be asked to move far, but a greater number will reap the benefits of working flexibly under the council’s Worksmart initiative.