Secrecy surrounds cost of Civic Offices upgrade

DESPITE the fact that it will be torn apart in three years if major rebuilding plans for its Civic Offices go ahead, Thurrock Council is pressing ahead with a refurbishment of its reception areas.

However, it is keeping the cost a secret!

Plans are afoot to demolish part of the offices and build flats, as well as a new frontage for the council but in the meantime a contract has been placed for significant changes to the current set up.

The council says the work, which gets underway next week, will create 14 digital self-service stations to give residents better and faster access to information and services as well as creating a dedicated area to provide additional support to vulnerable residents visiting the civic centre.

During works face-to-face customer services will run as normal from a slightly smaller space on the ground floor of the Civic Offices.

A spokesperson said: “We have embraced a customer self-service vision which means that residents can use online services to interact with the council all from the comfort of their own home.

“This has given us an opportunity to redesign our customer services area to make sure that vulnerable visitors can get improved help and assistance while speeding up the process.”

The Thurrock Independent asked about the cost of the work and if it was really necessary at a time of supposed austerity and it could be replaced in three years.

Even though government guidelines say councils should give details of winning tenders, the council says the information is “commercially sensitive” and declined to give it.

The spokesperson added:?“Major refurbishment at the civic centre does not take place for another three years. These interim works will allow us to meet customer needs more efficiently and effectively. All furniture and equipment will be transferable.”