Monday, 28 October 2013

Awdry House Just The Ticket For Delivery Of Local Services

A new purpose built Council facility was officially opened in Wisbech today (October 28) to make it easier for people to access a range of services under one roof.

Awdry House, which replaces several outdated properties in the town, is next door to the College of West Anglia.

It houses several teams from Children's Services, including locality teams, social care, children’s centres, family intervention, statutory assessment and resources, youth offending, support for learning and learners with learning disabilities and/or difficulties.

The building also contains the registration service, the community engagement team and YMCA partner services. All these services provide support to the communities of Wisbech.

Construction was completed on time and has recently been reported as delivering an underspend of £600,000 against the original budget of £6.5 million.

The investment comes as part of the Wisbech 2020 vision to encourage jobs, improve the economy and improve service delivery for the people of Wisbech.

Awdry House was officially opened by County Council Chairman Cllr Kevin Reynolds and Council Leader Cllr Martin Curtis. They were joined by local Councillors, headteachers, partners Fenland District Council, contractors Morgan Sindall and Fusion Project Management, some of the services from Awdry House and officers from the Council who helped deliver the project.

Building was finished earlier this year and people have been relocating to the offices throughout the summer. Teams have moved from a number of buildings that were in a poor condition, were unsuitable and were unfit for purpose. A number of these buildings were also leased and this is something the Council is keen to move away from.

Occupants and users of the office are already seeing the benefits of the services being co-located together in this brand new facility

Lisa Riddle, Wisbech Locality Manager, said: “We've noticed customers and staff are much happier in the new building, which really is a big improvement as we now have a range of flexible meeting spaces, and better IT facilities. There's also been a benefit to us as a result of bringing together several of the Children's teams into one location and we are also able to link up more easily with other educational establishments in the area.”

The public chose to name Awdry House after voting on the Shape Your Place website. The building was named after Reverend Wilbert Awdry (1911-1997) who was Vicar of Emneth near Wisbech from 1953-1965 and was also the author of the famous Thomas the Tank Engine children's books.

The development of Awdry House next door to the College of West Anglia is part of a larger investment on the College site, totalling £13 million. As part of the same construction contract a new technology centre was built to provide the college students with state-of-the-art workshop facilities for engineering, motorsports, motor vehicle engineering and electrical and electro-technical programmes.

This building was funded by Cambridgeshire County Council (£5 million), Fenland District Council (£1.5 million) and the College themselves. Construction for this building was completed in March 2013. The two projects were very closely linked and were developed with a planned time lag between them so a single construction contractor (Morgan Sindall) could carry out the work in the most cost effective way.

County Council Leader Martin Curtis, said: “This is a substantial investment in Wisbech and the local community. It brings many of the Council’s services together in one place, making it easier for the community to access them. This is part of a wider programme of improvements through the Wisbech 2020 Vision that we have been working with partners on to encourage jobs, improve the economy and raise the quality of life.”