Latest Public Sector News


All under one roof

Source: Public Sector Executive Mar/Apr 12

For local authorities and local public services, relocation does not mean upping sticks and finding new premises halfway across the country, but instead better ways of providing services in new venues in the same locality. Cllr Graham Chapman, deputy leader of Nottingham City Council, spoke to PSE about the new Bulwell Riverside centre bringing together council, NHS, housing services and a library in one building.

A new centre bringing together local authority and NHS services in Nottingham makes things more convenient for citizens – but, more importantly, is enabling co-operative working and innovative thinking among professionals across different public services who were previously geographically divided.

The Labour council’s deputy leader, Graham Chapman, said that was a key aim of the new £23m Bulwell Riverside joint service centre, the city’s third.

He explained: “It brings services together for the convenience of our citizens, but actually that for me is the secondary purpose; the primary one is getting people working together at desks next to each other in a building where they’re all constantly seeing each other and meeting each other over tea or coffee or water. That’s where you get much more co-operative working, and that’s the bit that takes longest to develop. It’s important we get the right structures.

“The classic case is elderly care: and health visitors working with housing workers and even librarians. That, in the end, is where the real benefits will come.”

Nottingham City Council, NHS Nottingham City and Nottingham City Homes all have multiple services in the building, alongside a library service, café and welfare rights team.

The project has been one about increasing services rather than cutting costs, Cllr Chapman.

He explained: “It wasn’t done to save money. The thing about PFI is that you’re paying up front, quite a lot, and you’re also paying regularly, quite a lot, so in revenue terms, you’re not saving a great deal of money – in fact some of it could come across as quite expensive. What you are doing, however, is getting other benefits – and in 20 years’ time, we’re not going to have to renew the building.

“Saving money wasn’t the main purpose at the time. In the long term, if you can have joint working, and things working properly, and getting the preventative work moving – if people are working together, they can move from remedial work to preventative – and I think there will be a lot of hidden benefits downstream.

“It’s also saved us having to renew some stuff we would have had to. Old library buildings are not very adaptable, for example, so that’s something we’ll be selling off, but it won’t create any bonuses, because the land values aren’t that enormous. We’re not, in the end, looking at any short-term savings, because it won’t happen through PFI, it doesn’t allow that, nor are we going to get any big regeneration bonuses from the leftover properties, because most of them are in outer areas with low land values.”

The centre is helping fortify relationships with the NHS locally, Cllr Chapman said: “We’re very fortunate in Nottingham that the doctors are arranging themselves into sensible consortia, which we can work with, and we are working very closely on preventative issues with them. This new building is obviously going to reinforce that.”

We asked Terry Allen, director of finance and IT at NHS Nottingham City, about costs, and he said: “Clearly to replace an old outdated and functionally unsuitable building with a much larger state-of-theart facility costs the PCT more – on average around £1m per annum. The PCT Estates Strategy identified four strategic locations within the city where inadequate health centre premises would be replaced by joint service centres – not only updating the physical environment but co-locating a range of primary, community and other healthcare providers with local authority services including social services and housing under the same roof.

“The co-location not only provides efficiency benefits to the statutory agencies but more importantly should improve the patient and client experience by delivering seamless care across organisational boundaries.”

He said that the buildings were futureproof, in that they can be easily reconfigured as patterns of health & social care delivery change, and said there is an intention to move more services from hospital settings into the community, which is better for the patient and is a better use of scarce NHS resources. This can also help mitigate some of the costs of the new centre, he said.

The new centre has created some teething parking issues, annoying some local businesses, but in general feedback has been positive – or at least not negative. Cllr Chapman said: “Very often, a success in the public sector is people not objecting to something: it’s not accolades. And we’ve had no bad reaction: we’ve done tremendously well by involving children and schools, and it’s a bloody good building. It’s very nicely-designed.”

Space is also being let out to community groups at below-cost, to ensure plenty of people get to make use of it.

Building work started in 2009 and was completed in November 2011, before the centre and all its services fully opened in February 2012. The project was developed and delivered by Greater Nottingham LIFTCo, which will also maintain it over the next 25 years.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News


Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >


Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >