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EDDC’s Consultants advise refurbishment, for “a desirable, vibrant, efficient and profitable asset”

Another question put to Full Council (17 December), in an ironically stiflingly overheated Chamber (No on/off control installed?), is copied here, for the information of the many who were not able to attend. Disappointingly, not a single comment on this, or other questions from the floor, was made by any of the seven Sidmouth Councillors present, although representatives of other East Devon Wards did so, illustrating that relocation is about costs to be shouldered by the whole district.


‘Let’s consider first a report which came out in June 2012:

“A carefully thought-through refurbishment can transform a tired, uneconomical, inefficient building into a desirable, vibrant, efficient and profitable asset that supports new ways of working and incorporates modern sustainable technology.”

The authors of the report?

None other than consultants Davis Langdon, who are also advising this council on its relocation project.

Let’s look at another report, from last year:

“Energy prices are expected to continue on an upward trend over time, as a result of rising wholesale energy and network costs. In real terms, household electricity prices are estimated to rise around 38% between 2013 and 2030.”

This report was put together by the Department of Energy.

And yet a report given to this council’s cabinet this month presents a completely different formula, namely that there will be a 10% annual increase in energy prices – which amounts, over 20 years, to a total rise of 650%.

Back in 2008, a Display Energy Certificate was issued giving Knowle the “more energy efficient” band C.

This was accompanied by an Advisory Report from the Energy Assessor, who set out several recommendations such as more insulation, more double-glazing and a comprehensive heating strategy.

In 2012, another such Certificate was produced [and this can be seen on Savills website] – but it showed no improvement.

Why have the vast majority of the Energy Assessor’s efficiencies not been considered and modern sustainable technologies introduced?

Well, if we look at the Knowle Energy Use and Maintenance Cost Analysis Report presented to council in June last year, it states that should such minimum energy efficiencies be introduced then this would give savings of only £22,000 in the first year –which would provide “poor value”.

However, if we apply the same formula as presented to cabinet this month and imagine an increase of 10% every year for 20 years, this figure would represent total savings of £1.8 million.

Let’s now take another key statistic:

If the proposed 250 staff needing desks were housed in the 1980s building at Knowle, which occupies about 40% of the office floor space at Knowle – then, still using the official figures, this would give energy savings of 70%, which would amount to almost £60,000 a year.

And again, using the 10% annual increase formula, this would amount to savings over 20 years of over £4 million.

To finish: [where I was interrupted!]

I don’t really want to be playing such games over figures like this – what is really needed is independent auditing and verification of the numbers.

Tonight, though, all I ask of you is to consider the extent to which such figures are being used to justify this relocation project – and that these figures are highly questionable.

Thank you.

Jeremy Woodward’

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