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ESTATES, FACILITIES & FIRE PROTECTION


Above: Council offices, before and after.


fit all To manage the partnerships, Parkes


recommended time, consultation with the community and recognition that different circumstances require different solutions. As he said, “one size does not fit all”.


Theory into practice


When asked if this model could soon be seen across the country by other councils, Parkes answered: “Unquestionably!”


Worcestershire’s success had “translated theory into practice”, he said, and added: “There’s a lot of people talking about it, if I’m frank, and not so many that are actually delivering it.”


A conference the council held on these issues in March this year drew a great deal of interest from all over the country, even as far afield as Scotland, Parkes said.


“I think it’s recognised across the country now that property can play its part. We challenge and facilitate the thinking that brings about change; why have we got six buildings in this town between us when actually we only need one?”


Parkes explained that challenging services to operate differently meant the council was streamlining property and services “from both ends”.


He said: “The best way around is that the services themselves should be looking at new ways of working and if they are coming together as partnerships to deliver services the community need in the style that they want, then the property rationalisation will flow naturally from that.”


Changing the landscape


Property can make a significant contribution to the reductions needed across public sector services, Parkes pointed out.


The target to reduce and transform the property portfolio across the whole county by 25% should be complete by 2016, he said, and noted that this does not just mean reducing properties: “It means having more energy efficient, more sustainable, much smaller numbers of flexible accommodation which can be used for a multitude of different things and a multitude of different partners.”


The property landscape could look very different in four years, with Parkes suggesting that joint ownership might overtake individual management.


He said: “We come in and out of places as and when we need it. That could include the private


sector, there’s no reason why we can’t co-locate and share with the private sector too, if that’s the best way in which to create regeneration and growth in these areas.”


This is something the council is working towards, Parkes said, with the private sector managing the buildings from which public sector services are run.


“We see the shape of property in Worcestershire in five years time as being very different from what it is now.


“We can look wider and manage our property in a bit more of an entrepreneurial way than perhaps we have traditionally done in the past,” he said, and clarified; “It’s not the same as getting into bed with the private sector and being too close in terms of the public sector / private sector divide.


“I think it’s very much about how we can work in partnership with people in the right and proper way.”


Peter Parkes FOR MORE INFORMATION


Visit www.worcestershire.gov.uk/cms/pdf/ Property%20MJ_Award.pdf


public sector executive Jul/Aug 12 | 43


does not


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