From Court House To Home...The Big Move Part 2
From Court House To Home...The Big Move Part 2
The auction was held on 6th December 2013 and the contracts were signed. Although I had an idea that it may take a little while to complete, little did I understand how difficult this would become! For now it was enough to know that all being well we would have a new office to move into come 22nd September 2014 – the date our lease at our current offices expire.
Christmas came and went, didn’t really expect much to happen. Back into work January with everybody buzzing about the new offices and having 101 questions to answer. Now anybody who has had dealings with the Crown would have some empathy for what we went through next I would hope.
The main issue was that the building was a purpose built municipal building that was built in the 1930’s and was shared with the Police. Whilst both were operated by The Crown this didn’t cause any problems and the two happily co-existed until 2003. However the writing was on the wall and there was an Act of Parliament that detailed what would happen in the event the two needed to separate. Budget constraints hit services hard and plans were drawn up to consolidate certain local services – and the Magistrates Court in Southport was deemed surplus to requirements and proceedings were shunted off to Bootle!
As many of the building’s services were shared certain things needed to take place before the Magistrates Court was sold off – needless to say this never happened! It was only once we tried to unravel the mess that had been left did we realise the extent of the issues that were outstanding and we were caught in the middle. Behind the scenes HMRC and the Police were trying to resolve the situation and when it became apparent that the differences couldn’t be settled prior to completion of the sale, HMRC took the easy route out – they completed with the issues still hanging around!
So we are in May 2014, we have a lease on our current offices that ran out in September 2014 and have a disgruntled tenant in our new office building. We had no planning permission and the Police were occupying about a third of the property. It would take many patient months of negotiation with the Police to come up with a compromise that we were both comfortable with – we got there in the end!
Move forward to September 2014 and things have moved forward somewhat. We are still in our old offices and I have tried to advise our landlord that we are staying put until Christmas, although they didn’t really care as they have left the building too! (we sub-let from Russell & Bromley who were the leaseholders). The owner of the property hasn’t been in touch yet, we’ll just be a nice surprise for them when they turn up!
Architects have drawn up plans (version 27!) and builders have been appointed. A nervousness is creeping in as it becomes real. Contracts have to be signed and the works agreed – it is a big construction job but we’re determined to make them the best offices in Southport and give the team a wonderful place to work. There are some small things we can do before the builders move in, after September the building becomes theirs for 13 weeks whilst construction is underway.
We didn’t just want the lovely oak courtroom furniture to be ripped out and thrown away.
I took some photos and put it on eBay.
We also contacted the local paper and they carried an article about it (thank you Georgina from the Southport Visiter). Fortunately we were contacted by Edge Hill University who are looking to build a courtroom setting in 18 months’ time and the furniture we had on offer fitted perfectly with their vision. We still had another court’s worth of furniture to dispose of and after being disappointed by another buyer we have decided to use it for ourselves.
As we like to have a party and we are looking to raise some charity funds by having events on our lovely atrium area, we will use the judge’s bench (it’s actually a long table!) and make it into a bar. We will also use some of the padded seating and place it outside in the atrium as a seating area and some of the wooden benches will be turned into a boardroom table.
It’s great to be able to use some of the old furniture.
So we are ready for the construction team to move in and transform what is a tired area into our lovely new offices. There is plenty to be done and a great deal of work to get it ready for our Xmas party on 19th December.
Jacquie and Jenny are busy planning how to use the space to make it look at its best. I would say don’t get carried away ladies but I fear that the advice is too late!
More to follow as the project continues…...
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