A REPORT launched today by MP Matthew Hancock advises that local authorities should move to greener more sustainable office space to save cash – and public sector jobs. But does the report go far enough?
John Orchard at Houses of Parliament
It costs a staggering £208,000,000 a year to run the House of Commons alone – so by relocating the functions of the Palace of Westminster thousands of jobs could be saved.
Property company Marchday says that by closing the doors and relocating, the Government could make massive savings on the cost of running the establishment as well as providing a greener alternative.
Today’s report “Leaner and greener: Delivering effective estate management” is the result of research by the Westminster Sustainable Business Forum, and Marchday agrees with it findings (* see Editor’s notes) – but wants the Government to consider taking up its recommendations itself.
Marchday says exactly the same premise applies to Government as to local authorities – and that the functions of the House could easily be accommodated on its huge 107 acre award-winning sustainable development Lingfield Point in Darlington, County Durham.
Now Marchday, (which also owns New Lodge in Windsor and Cavendish Square in Central London) wants to put the House of Commons up for sale on behalf of the people of England.
The £208million for the eight acres of accommodation, operating costs and security does not include MPs salaries or administration costs.
Marchday wants MPs to be prepared to accept the advice of MP Iain Duncan Smith and move to follow the jobs.
John Orchard, of Marchday said: “The Palace of Westminster functions as a giant office space with meeting rooms and chambers.
“It is very costly to run and maintain. Obviously there are cheaper places to be based – for example Lingfield Point – which is an award-winning sustainable business park that offers everything needed to run the country efficiently and cost effectively.
“Despite the fact that Government has commissioned two reports into devolving civil service jobs to the regions very little changed as a result. (The Lyons Report and the Smith Review, the Lyons Report alone cost £2.22m)
“News reports make it clear how hard some of the poorest areas of England will be hit by the planned spending cuts and this is a great opportunity to resurrect this idea.
“The Government is asking everybody else to face the harsh realities that cuts will bring – it needs to take a top-down lead by example approach.
“Office space at Lingfield Point is available at £10 per sq ft compared to the average of £35 per sq ft in London. The North East has a work-ready army of skilled people and logistical and transport links to Europe that are the best in England.
“This isn’t about making political points – it is a moral issue – we want the people in charge to think about the human cost of the proposals on the table and how easily some of the effects could be mitigated,” said Mr Orchard.
Savings would be ongoing and long term and include benefits such as reducing environmental impact, reducing sickness, the fact that running and maintaining new facilities is cheaper and the fact that people work better in clean fresh and well-designed buildings.