WTC Statement Following 18th September Public Meeting & Delivery of Petition
First and foremost, Wivenhoe Town Council expresses its gratitude to all Wivenhoe postal workers and thanks them unreservedly for the excellent service they continue to deliver to the town.
We also wish to explain the history and facts behind decisions made concerning the future of the WTC premises at 77 High Street. In so doing we aim to correct misinformation that has clouded discussion of the issue in recent weeks.
At the public meeting we were handed a petition (signed by just over 500 people) claiming that WTC were planning to ‘evict Royal Mail staff’ from 77 High Street in February 2022.
WTC is not evicting Royal Mail or its staff from our premises.
Royal Mail rented space at 77 High Street long before the property was purchased by WTC. Their lease was due to expire in 2020, so in mid 2019 the council engaged an agent to start renewal negations.
The negotiations did not reach a satisfactory conclusion so, following legal advice WTC decided that the best long-term solution for Wivenhoe was for our offices and yard to undergo much needed modernisation.
The Covid-19 pandemic hindered progress of the project, but the original decision has been re-confirmed by full council on three separate occasions.
WTC was also keen to explore ways in which Royal Mail might continue operating out of the council premises whilst we modernised. One idea was for the 1st floor to be adapted to suit Royal Mail’s needs, but they declined this offer.
Negotiations were finally concluded with WTC agreeing to accommodate the May 2022 departure date requested by Royal Mail.
Royal Mail operational matters fall outside the remit of WTC. However, they have recently confirmed to us that undelivered mail will continue to be collected from Wivenhoe Cross Post Office, and that their relocation plans are well in hand. This should be hugely reassuring to the residents who expressed concerns.
Looking to the future, what are the benefits of modernising our premises?
Our plans have been guided by three main principles:
We plan to provide full disabled access to our reception and chamber, whilst increasing space for public attendance of council meetings.
We also expect to accommodate online streaming, hearing loops and other technical enhancements that improve public access.
The new offices will feature a welcoming and flexible design that not only provides better public access to council and services, but also a better environment for our office and ground staff to work in.
We must meet our 2030 carbon neutral goals. This includes replacing antiquated electricity and heating systems and improving the insulation in our aging buildings.
A consultant is looking into the energy efficiency of the premises and exploring the availability of grants.
We also expect to provide more capacity for the recycling facilities used by Wivenhoe residents and will explore the possibility of installing electric car charging points in the yard (whilst making it safer, cleaner and more efficient).
We must also keep a close eye on finances and the precept paid by Wivenhoe residents.
To finance this project WTC intends to take advantage of a government loan at a very low interest rate. This will be repaid via revenue generated from the police houses. Low interest rates make long-term property investment an effective way to subsidise the precept, so are good financial sense for Wivenhoe.
Our rejuvenated 1st floor offices will provide a well-equipped home for local businesses in the heart of the town, securing long term revenue that exceeds what the ground floor can currently deliver.
An architect has now been appointed and will produce concept designs that will form part of a public consultation later this year. If you still have questions for WTC, do not forget that you are entitled to attend our meetings, where public questions are invited at the start.
Our exciting plans for modernisation are scheduled to commence in June 2022.