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Working from home could render £18m council headquarters a white elephant

A model new council headquarters which price taxpayers £18 million is standing nearly empty as a result of workers are being advised to remain at home months after Covid guidelines have been abolished.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s New Shire Hall is liable to changing into a white elephant as bosses insist on social distancing, which even the NHS has now deserted.

Members of the general public who go to the constructing report being advised that nobody works there. On Monday, the council refused to offer particulars of what number of workers are nonetheless working from home.

A former minister mentioned it “beggars belief” that council staff are nonetheless being advised to keep away from coming to the office when the world of labor has returned to regular elsewhere.

The Liberal Democrat-Labour coalition that runs the council is refusing to carry full council conferences within the constructing. Its Covid guidelines imply not more than 22 folks can meet in a chamber designed to carry greater than 80.

Skeleton workers amid ‘air flow necessities’

New Shire Hall opened for business final summer season after the council determined its outdated headquarters in Cambridge was outmoded. It constructed its new headquarters in Alconbury, close to Huntingdon, claiming it might save the general public £40 million over 25 years.

But it has operated with a skeleton workers ever since. When The Telegraph visited the location on Monday, there have been simply three automobiles in its automobile park. A receptionist blamed “Covid guidelines” for the truth that so many workers have been nonetheless working from home.

A council spokesman mentioned it was “incorrect” to recommend that nobody was working on the constructing. However, the spokesman confirmed that some council buildings stay closed, that numbers have been dictated by “social distancing and ventilation requirements” and that “numbers using the buildings will further increase as virus levels continue to decline”.

Jake Berry, the Tory MP and former minister mentioned: “There is little or no reason whatsoever that people working for Cambridgeshire County Council should not go back to work. We have seen Covid restrictions rolled back across the country and it beggars belief that the only place they haven’t heard about this is in Cambridgeshire.”

Steve Count, head of the Conservative group on the council, recommended its leaders have been “overthinking” Covid precautions.

When the constructing was commissioned by a earlier Conservative-led council, the normal council chamber was changed by a multi-function room which could be used for full council conferences but additionally for different conferences and occasions.

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