Over recent years, Herefordshire Council has been working with a range of partner organisations within the county to improve the way its property assets are managed and reduce duplication. The council has taken a lead nationally by co-locating with a range of government departments including the NHS, Clinical Commissioning Group, Environment Agency, Ministry of Justice, Department of Work and Pensions and Probation Service. In addition, over twenty community asset transfers will have taken place by the end of March this year with local groups taking control of buildings across the county which have become a focus for community activities.
Over the past year, talks have been underway to explore with public sector partners across Herefordshire and Worcestershire, the possibility of establishing a Joint Property Vehicle to create a public sector owned company which would provide a single property management unit across a range of public sector bodies.
It is important that Herefordshire has a property service that is sustainable and can continue to manage the county’s assets in the interests of the county and local people. The business case has now been considered and, whilst recognising that such an approach may provide benefits for other partners, cabinet has today decided not to join the Joint Property Vehicle as a founder member.
The council will now consider alternative options for property services which include: becoming a customer of the Joint Property Vehicle; joining the JPV in future once it is established and has demonstrated that it represents value for money; and exploring other joint venture or partnership opportunities.
Cllr Bramer, cabinet member contracts and assets said, “We are always looking for ways to make sure every penny of public money is spent wisely and we will continue to look at opportunities worthy of consideration. We wish the partners involved in this initiative well but after careful consideration, we have decided that it is not the right time for Herefordshire to join the proposed Joint Property Vehicle.
Over recent years we have developed a strong track record of working in partnership with other public bodies in Herefordshire to reduce property costs and with the private sector to improve training and employment opportunities in the building industry locally. We will continue with this strategy to make best use of all our properties whilst continuing to explore other options for improvement.”