A new era will dawn for Newark and Sherwood District Council with the opening to the public of its new offices, Castle House, in Great North Road, Newark on Monday 25th September.
The newly-constructed, cost effective and energy efficient building, which will improve customer access and save council taxpayers around £500,000 each year, are the realisation of a bold and innovative vision for public sector services in the 21st century.
The district council is sharing the building with the Department for Work and Pensions, which will provide services for job-seekers, Newark and Sherwood Homes, Citizens Advice Sherwood and Newark, Newark and Sherwood Community and Voluntary Services and the National Probation Service.
The move also signals the end of an era as the council closes its operations at the Grade I listed Kelham Hall – its home for more than 40 years. The council will be operating from reduced office space, more suited to its needs while the new location will be closer to more of its customers.
Face-to-face contacts with customers are increasing significantly year-on-year. With more cases needing responses from other public sector organisations and by being located in one place, the aim is to provide a more seamless service to the public. There is also scope to accommodate other public sector partners in the future.
With more than 300 council and partner staff based at the new offices, close to town centre businesses and services, the move will bring a positive impact on the local economy and support the council’s prosperity agenda.
The first committee meetings at the new headquarters will take place in the Civic Suite in September. Homes and Communities on September 11, Economic Development (September 13), Planning (September 14), Leisure and Environment (September 19), Policy and Finance (September 21) and a Special Council meeting (September 26).
Most council decisions are made in public sessions as part of an open and democratic process and the Civic Suite has new technological features to improve this further.
As well as enabling councillors to use an electronic e-voting system to cast their votes, webcasting – the process where live or recorded video can be streamed to the internet – will be available for use in the future. This means that proceedings at meetings can be viewed remotely by our residents. All these meetings are, of course, open for the public to come and watch as well.
Key decisions will continue to be communicated to the public via social media. Once the council and its partners are established in the new offices, the Civic Suite will be available for hire.
The council offices at Kelham Hall will close to the public on Thursday, September 21 at 5pm. The council’s offices at the Town Hall in Newark will be open on Friday, September 22 but will close for the last time that day at 4pm. This information will also be communicated to the public in the coming weeks through a poster campaign and on social media and the council’s website.
Newark and Sherwood District Council leader Councillor Roger Blaney said: “We are looking forward to providing an even better service to our customers from Castle House in the future as we continue to provide value for money to the council taxpayers of Newark and Sherwood.
“The new offices will be more accessible and provide a more customer-friendly environment. The modern, purpose-built design will enable the council to operate more effectively and efficiently. Castle House will be cheaper to run, offering significant savings that will help us protect frontline services.”
The council is also working hard to improve accessibility for customers in the west of the district. In Ollerton, the public can access jointly district council, Ollerton and Boughton Town Council and Jobcentre Plus services on Wednesday and Thursdays (9.30am-3pm) and there is a contact point in Southwell, based in Southwell’s library on Tuesdays (9.30am-4.30pm) and Thursday (9.30am-12.30pm).