Calderdale Council officers said lack of money was an issue and expectations of the public and councillors would have to be managed in terms of what the council can and cannot do in terms of its property.
Cabinet member for Regeneration and Strategy, Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said the council also had to be creative to get the best out of funding that became available.
The council’s CAFM Asset Management Board – the directorate looks after the council’s land, estate and property – were scrutinising a detailed and prioritised list of buildings needing safety work.
Board members heard that while some parts of the estate had benefited from investment in recent years, owing to insufficient and reducing resources large parts of the estate are in poor condition and are deteriorating, in some cases creating safety issues that are currently being managed but which will need to be addressed.
The board heard that £2.6 million had been required and approved to address the most serious of these which needed the most urgent attention.
Coun Steven Leigh (Con, Ryburn) agreed health and safety should be paramount but he was concerned – because the council had a big estate – that a similar need for a large amount of money might be required again and asked if issues could be tackled differently .
“Should we start to look at this in a different manner and consider putting amounts in at the end of each year, rather than having to put in place emergency funding to deal with a problem?” he said.
Coun Scullion said work done by officers and their teams over the previous five years in terms of assessing each of the buildings and detailing where problems were, particularly buildings used by the public, in terms of phasing repairs would pay off.
“In an ideal world we would have had enough money from Government to replace everything, but I certainly feel more confident in the state of the estate in terms of ‘this is the work we must do’ and things we are going to do over the year.
“But given the constraints of the money, the approach of identifying priorities is the only path to go down because there isn’t any money ,” she said.
The property and estate management directorate have delivered a lot of savings for the council in recent years and lead officer for asset management, Alan Lee, told members the need to be constantly more proactive and efficient was always to the fore.
“There will continue to be challenges, things that will crop up, but in terms of that much more measured and holistic approach, if we are going to do a job we would do it right first time, it’s more rewarding, more cost effective.
“Cutting corners and botching jobs is only a recipe for disaster,” he said.
Officers outlined decarbonisation projects where funding had been successfully obtained, making a number of older council buildings more eco-efficient with installation of heat pumps, for example, most recently a successful bid for upgrading Todmorden Sports Centre’s heating system.