Builders back in at Staffordshire council's £38m HQ
BUILDERS are back working at a council's £38 million headquarters six months after it opened – because pieces of the buildings started falling off.
Staffordshire County Council has asked contractors to return to its flagship office suites to remove and reattach all 300 stone tiles on the exterior of the complex.
The two buildings at Staffordshire Place, on Tipping Street, in Stafford, are still surrounded by scaffolding and protective fencing – despite staff moving into the offices in November.
Workmen were called back after council officials discovered 'shoddy workmanship' had seen some of the tiles starting to come loose.
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The ongoing work has also delayed the letting of five retail units on the ground floor of the headquarters, all of which are currently empty.
But leaders say the building has a 40-year guarantee and taxpayers will not have to pick up the bill for the extra work.
The council has declined to name the sub-contractor who carried out the work.
County councillor Mark Winnington, cabinet member for environment and assets, said: "The building was built by contractors on behalf of the council. They've admitted there has been some shoddy workmanship in the past.
"The tiles haven't been put on properly.
"The contractors are embarrassed at having to come back. It should never have happened. They should have got it right first time."
Council leaders say the new headquarters will deliver savings of £250,000 every year as staff from 17 older buildings spread across Stafford have been moved into one space.
About £9 million will be raised from selling off 11 of the buildings. But the new headquarters sparked criticism from opposition councillors after it emerged the authority spent almost £40,000 on 68 granite balls outside the building. Regular upright bollards were available to contractors at half the price.
Shopper Emma Grangewood, aged 24, who lives in Stafford, said: "I noticed the scaffolding had come down but now it has all gone back up again.
"It looks like a building site again, which is a shame, but I'd rather they fixed it than have a stone tile land on me."
Opposition councillor Dylis Cornes, who represents Newcastle, said: "It's a bit embarrassing but it's the workmanship and not the council. These things do happen, even though they shouldn't, and it's important that they are put right."
Mr Winnington said: "This is being carried out by the council's contractors at their cost with no expense to taxpayers.
"It remains business as usual. There will be some disruption to visitors and staff but offices are fully operational.
"The safety of visitors and employees is a top priority and the contractors are taking all the necessary precautions to ensure routes into and out of the buildings are safe."