Posted: Thu 7th Sep 2023

Concerns hybrid working for council staff could harm Colwyn Bay’s economy

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Sep 7th, 2023

A council’s “hybrid working” policy where staff work at home and in the office won’t help regenerate the fortunes of Colwyn Bay, it’s been claimed.

Conservative councillor Harry Saville raised concerns at a Conwy County Council finance scrutiny committee meeting.

It came as councillors backed plans for a new strategy that could see the Bodlondeb headquarters in Conwy sold and staff moved to the flagship £58m Coed Pella office.

The committee agreed to pledge £255,000 to pay for a business case to assess the sale of Bodlondeb.

The council then plans to move staff to Coed Pella, which has long been hailed as the solution to regenerating Colwyn Bay by increasing footfall in the town.

But Conservative backbencher Cllr Harry Saville questioned how the council’s hybrid working policy tallied with this goal.

Cllr Saville said: “I noticed one of the drivers behind the office strategy was having more staff effectively working in Colwyn Bay and adding to the local economy there and increasing footfall.

“What I’d like to know is how do we square that with the drive towards hybrid working?

“It seems very much that we’ve adopted a policy to move staff out of Coed Pella, which would therefore mean we would have less staff there contributing to the economy in Colwyn Bay.

“Now you’re saying you want more staff there to contribute towards the economy.”

In response, Conwy’s office project manager Bleddyn Evans said: “There is sufficient capacity within Coed Pella to absorb staff from Bodlondeb, more than enough, hence the driver for the one-office strategy.

“You only need to look back at the stats that we had for Bodlondeb in terms of the number of people there and then also the backlog maintenance (savings) on the revenue costs involved in running Bodlondeb.”

According to Conwy’s hybrid working policy, staff can return to the office, but with an emphasis on flexibility.

Chief executive Rhun ap Gareth said: “We are not encouraging staff to work exclusively from home. It is hybrid working.

“It is office and home working. You have members of staff who will be full-time in the office. You will have members of staff who will be working on specific days.

“At the moment, we are spread over two offices, so by consolidating the number of staff who are in the office at any given time, that should drive the numbers up in terms of usage of that building.

“We have to make better use of our estate. That’s the bottom line.”

By Richard Evans – Local Democracy Reporter

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