Retail is in decline so saving cash by refurbishing buildings is key

Northgate House, Halifax.
Northgate House, Halifax.

With “Council savings to rise to £84 million by 2016” Halifax Courier’s website 19/09/2012 isn’t it about time that we scrapped this scheme to dispose of two newly constructed buildings at tax payers’ expense i.e. Northgate House and the Central Library for Retail development and retain and refurbished them instead?

One thing is certain, Retail has reached its climax in recent years after constant growing year on year and now the inevitable has happened and retail as we know it is in decline. The Guardian reported earlier this year that according to Deloitte’s Store of the Future report “retailers may have to reduce their property portfolios by 30–40% in the next five years - as consumers turn their backs on traditional stores in favour of online shopping”. Deloitte is a company “which tens of thousands of dedicated professionals in independent firms throughout the world collaborate to provide audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, and tax services to selected clients.” According to Deloitte’s website. So is there any point disposing of Northgate House and the Central Library, two extremely high quality buildings simply because they require a refurbishment sometime in the near future? The same sort of refurbishment which every office block across the country has to go through at some time or another as a result of the process of “evolution” a term which doesn’t seem to feature in the Council’s Collins Dictionary. When by retaining them both could save at least £452,928 annually! That’s equivalent to just over £9 million every twenty years. As by doing so would remove the need for this Customer First facility which is expected to cost at least £300,000 annually as the majority if not all the Council offices would be in one convenient location. These Customer First facilities are really great for when you live in places like Todmorden miles away from Halifax town centre but when you have all the offices in one convenient location, you don’t really need one. By retaining Northgate House would also remove the need to rent office space within Westgate House saving £152,928 annually. So how devoted is Calderdale Council when it comes to making savings? Already stark warnings have been issued that public services will be compromised in order to achieve the additional savings. So is it worth missing out on these potential savings to provide retail accommodation when the high street is in decline?

Michael Bradley