Cash strapped Calderdale Council only has enough cash for basic and essential property upkeep

Halifax Borough Market
Halifax Borough Market

There is only enough money in Calderdale Council’s coffers to maintain much of the property it owns at a minimum level according to a new report.

Even that is an interim measure and in no way addresses the authority’s ability to undertake basic services such as decorating its day care buildings in the long run, says a report to councillors.

The portfolio ranges in size from key buildings like Halifax Borough Market, the Victoria Theatre, The Shay Stadium, Todmorden and Brighouse Libraries and Todmorden Sports centre to some people’s homes and day care facilities.

The council’s Corporate and Management Facilities (CAFM) asset management board heard the service – responsible for the ensuring the council’s land and property is fit for purpose, delivering services well and with value for money – faces problems funding building upkeep, severely limiting which it can maintain and improve.

Any bid for additional resources must be supported by the board before being submitted to Cabinet and full council for consideration.

In her report to the board, facilities management lead Elaine Wynne says: “The current property portfolio is deteriorating and requires substantial investment both to deal with backlog maintenance and to bring the portfolio to an appropriate standard to deliver services.”

At the moment capital is only allocated for work at buildings already identified to be retained, that are critical to the council’s business, or have health and safety issues.

Money might also be spent to prevent an asset from deteriorating in value or if, via the partnership Re-fit project, they improve energy efficiency.

As it stands, “the capital allocated concentrates on undertaking mainly health and safety works and roof repairs to ensure that buuildings are wind and water tight to prevent further damage, deterioration and impact on service delivery,” says the report.

Cash has been found to complete work already funded such as replacing slates at Halifax Borough market or replacing boilers at Shibden Hall and Mixenden Youth Centre.

Much of this is funded by prudential borrowing using the CAFM revenue budget but this is not a sustainable strategy in the future for a budget already under pressure, says the report.

The next phase of priority works, expected to begin in 2019-20 and totalling around £2 million, will be funded this way however.

In particular, going forward any decision to retain a building should include the capital funding required to bring it up to standard, it adds.

A spokesperson for Calderdale Council said: “To ensure that we can make the most of the buildings we continue to run we have proposed a programme of essential work on a number of our buildings.

“At the meeting of the council’s cross-party Asset Management Board on Tuesday, April 24, members agreed for these plans to be submitted to the Economic Investment Panel later this year, to consider progressing to Cabinet for final review.”