Empty Walsall Council offices ‘gathering dust’ as hundreds continue to work from home

Walsall Civic Centre will remain as offices for council staff despite furniture “piling up and gathering dust” as hundreds work from home most of the week.

The Civic Centre in Darwall Street, Walsall. Photo: Google.
The Civic Centre in Darwall Street, Walsall. Photo: Google.

Independent Blakenall ward councillor Pete Smith quizzed council bosses on future plans for the Darwall Street building given the amount of unused space since Covid restrictions and widespread working from home.

But council leader Mike Bird confirmed there were no plans for the Civic Centre other than keeping it as it has always been.

Following questions by Councillor Smith, Councillor Bird confirmed around 1,800 people now spent part of their working weeks in the office and the rest of the time at home.

Only around 100 staff work completely in the Civic Centre or Council House such as cleaners, curators and registrars. He added there were no authority employees working completely from home.

Councillor Smith said: “It may be the case for some that ‘work is what you do, not where you do it from’.

“But also for many other public sector workers as well as arguably large sections of Walsall residents and council taxpayers ‘work is not just what you do but where you do it from’.

“Given the fact quite often key officers are in what we would normally consider working hours are working somewhere else – and I’m not suggesting they are not working by the way – and given large swathes of the Civic Centre are empty and full of hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of equipment and furniture that seems to be piling up and gathering dust, what are the plans for the Civic Centre given the fact it now looks as if there is an awful lot of surplus space?”

Councillor Bird said: “All staff are working 100 per cent of the time and are able to work in many different ways from many different locations making efficient use of our buildings and improving productivity.

“The plans for the Civic Centre are as they’ve always been. There are no plans which you seem to be alluding to of anything other than it being the place for our employees to come and work.”

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