Pandemic recovery plans approved at meeting of the Full Council

Marmion HouseWide-ranging plans to ensure Tamworth Borough Council remains fit for the future while protecting vital services for the town’s residents amid recovery from the pandemic, have been approved at a meeting of all councillors.

The proposals were given the go-ahead at a meeting of the Full Council last night (August 25) after being initially agreed by Cabinet members at the end of July. This will now kick-start a more detailed programme of consultation, engagement and research required to develop the plans further.

The series of measures are designed to tackle a predicted Budget deficit of £7m over the next five years, as a result of planned Government funding reforms and the huge financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. While the budget is balanced for the next three years, the ‘Recovery and Reset’ programme is about modernisation and making sure the council remains resilient for the future and ready to tackle the predicted shortfall over the longer term.

The headline actions include:

  • To commence the decommissioning of Marmion House to achieve estimated savings of £3.5m over five years
  • To further investigate opportunities for the future of the Marmion House site
  • Begin detailed engagement around future options for the front reception service and how it should be delivered from a new town centre base
  • To establish Tamworth Town Hall as the municipal headquarters of the town
  • To begin formal consultations with members of Tamworth Borough Council staff around new smart working principles, enabling a more hybrid approach between home-based and office-based working
  • Support the development of a vulnerability strategy together with key partners from the voluntary sector to ensure that help is always readily and easily available to the most vulnerable members of the community

Leader of the Council, Cllr Jeremy Oates, said: “As we’ve explained before, funding to councils has significantly reduced in recent years and we were already facing challenges around that. The added lost income through our leisure and tourism attractions, rates and rents as a result of the pandemic has accelerated and increased the scale of this problem.

“While budgets are balanced in the short term, we have to act now to realise savings and efficiencies so that we can protect services in the future. This is our opportunity to bring forward plans that have been on the agenda for a while, to bring the council and its services up to date.

“It means doing away with a big expensive building that no-one wants to rent and that is no longer fit for purpose and taking advantage of the new capability and flexibility of home working, combined with time in the office when it’s needed.

“Marmion House is a key site and could open up opportunities for the town as part of wider regeneration work.

“At the same time, we want to modernise and improve our Customer Services offer to be more demand-led. That means tailoring support and access to make sure those who need help the most, get it, while improving the digital offer for people who prefer to sort things at a time to suit them.

“We have to move with the times, to become a more efficient council and we also have to get ready for the financial challenges we’re expecting when funding from Government reduces.

“The Recovery and Reset programme and the recommendations that were approved by Full Council last night, provide the framework for us to do that.

“Nothing is yet a 100% done deal, but we do now have a basis upon which to consult and engage further, be that with members of staff, our voluntary sector partners, consultants and stakeholders, and of course, the residents of Tamworth. It is therefore expected that plans will change and evolve in the coming months as we go through that process.

“The important thing to stress is that our services remain fully open and accessible to all, whether that’s through phone, email, website, webchat, social media, or face-to-face appointments where needed.

“All Tamworth Borough Council staff have continued to provide existing, and many additional services, throughout the pandemic and help is available to anyone who needs it.

A new dedicated webpage has now been created which people can visit to find out more about the proposals and to keep up to date with the progress. This can be viewed at: www.tamworth.gov.uk/recovery-and-reset.

You can also watch a short video update from Cllr Oates and Chief Executive Andrew Barratt below or via the council’s YouTube channel.