Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Video released of SODC building damage

A video has been released which shows the extensive damage to South Oxfordshire District Council?s offices after a blaze ripped through the premises last month

A video has been released which shows the extensive damage to South Oxfordshire District Council?s offices after a blaze ripped through the premises last month.

The fire, which started in the early hours of Thursday, January 15 almost completely destroyed the Crowmarsh Gifford offices.

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But just three weeks after the inferno the authority says it?s ?nearly business as usual?.

About two thirds of the staff are working out of temporary offices at Abbey House in Abingdon with the remainder working from home, the Cornerstone arts centre in Didcot and The Beacon in Wantage.

The main public front line services such as waste collections and leisure centres weren?t affected by the fire, and other emergency council services, like homelessness prevention were immediately up-and-running the morning after the fire from the temporary offices.

But a spokesman said: ?The planning department?s entire office was decimated by the fire. Their work relies mostly on large data files, which had to be restored from back-up systems, but they were up and running just eight days later.

?The council is currently estimating around a fortnight?s delay in deciding existing planning applications. Anybody who is submitting a new application should do so online or by email with attachments in PDF format.

?The planning team are asking that they also send two printed copies of the application to the temporary offices. This will help them deal with the planning application much more quickly.?

A temporary office will have to be found for staff for around two to three years, while the long-term future of the Crowmarsh site is decided.

The spokesman added: ?The council has appointed an agent to negotiate a deal on a couple of properties they?ve identified, and hope to have made a decision in the next few weeks.?

Councillor John Cotton, leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: ?The fact that we were up and running so soon is a result of good business continuity planning mixed with some ingenuity and improvisation. As much as anything else though, it?s down to some serious hard work from our staff who have pulled together and risen to the challenge brilliantly.

?There?s a long way to go yet, but I?m very happy that the majority of our residents will barely have noticed a blip in the services we?re providing.?

For more information about council services visit www.southoxon.gov.uk or www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk

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