Reading the Children’s Services Buildings review could save £500,000

A review of the children’s services buildings used by the Reading Council’s children’s services company could lead to a cut in expenditure of more than half a million pounds.

Next week Reading Borough Council’s policy committee will review the buildings it uses as facilities for Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC), its children’s services company.

BFfC is wholly council owned and currently operates services in 12 buildings across Reading.

The review led by the Council’s Executive Director for Economic Growth and Neighborhood Services proposed that services could be run from 13 locations.

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The proposed changes are set out in a report to the Policy Committee of the Board.

The report proposes using 330 Northumberland Avenue as office space for BFfC staff.

BFfC will also leave The Avenue School in Tilehurst so that it can be redeveloped to provide an additional 60 places for pupils with special needs (SEND).

The redevelopment of The Avenue was approved in February this year, but means that 150 staff will have to be based elsewhere, including at 330 Northumberland Avenue.

330 Northumberland Avenue in Reading. Credit: Google Maps

The report states: “Due to the agreement to develop the Avenue for SEN offer, a notice has been sent to BFfC for The Avenue Centre.

“BFfC is reducing its office requirements in line with a more flexible way of working, so a full-fledged replacement for The Avenue Center is not required.

“BFfC requested alternate office accommodation and 330 Northumberland Avenue was offered as an alternative.”

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Other changes to BFfC facilities include the use of Sun Street Youth and Community Center and the modification of BFfC services at Katesgrove Community Centre.

Much of the facilities that were at the Katesgrove Community Center have been moved to the Sun Street Community Center with the council now proposing to use the Katesgrove Community Center to house the Juvenile Delinquency Service and hire community groups.

Although the Youth Offending Service is currently located at 16 North Street, there are fears the landlord may be evicting BFfC staff.

Reading Chronicle: 16 North Street in Reading, the current headquarters of the city's Youth Offending Service.  Credit: Google Maps16 North Street in Reading, the current headquarters of the city’s Youth Offending Service. Credit: Google Maps

The report states: “The BFfC Juvenile Delinquency Unit currently provides services from a rented building at 16 North Street.

“There is an ongoing risk that the owner may serve a notice of demand for possession and the recommendation is to move the service to

provide secure council owned premises.

Using all these buildings costs money in rental fees and facility management fees.

The council’s property and asset management department predicts the total charges could be reduced by £566,076.

Currently, a total of £2.262 million (£2,262,892) is being spent on the 12 buildings used by BFfC.

It is expected that this could go down to £1.696 million (£1,696,816) if the building review is passed.

The changes are expected to be voted on by the council’s policy committee at a meeting on Monday June 13.