THE HSE is insisting that expenditure of €340,000 on stylish new offices – formerly used by Cork County Council staff – is justified.
The health executive said the leasing and renovation of an office block on the Model Farm Road would save more than €1 million in the next three years.
But a Fianna Fáil councillor has claimed the offices were modern, by county council standards. “The place was good enough for hard-working employees of Cork County Council when they were there,” said Cllr Alan Coleman.
“The HSE is planning to build cellular offices on the site and I don’t think there is any need for this, especially at a time when finances are limited for frontline services.” The council formerly used the building as a library and offices.
A HSE spokeswoman said nearly 60% of the overall cost, €193,000, would be spent on converting the former public library into office accommodation and glazed screens would be used for natural light. But the South Cork councillor said: “I’m not satisfied this is necessary. It appears to me the works go far and beyond what is needed. This type of work may have been allowable during the boom times... but the HSE should be minimising its spending.”
In addition to the library conversion, the HSE is spending a further €43,000 in the fit-out of other floors and on installing a disabled access ramp at the entrance to comply with recently introduced legislation. It is also spending €47,000 on mechanical works and €55,000 on electrical improvements. The HSE maintains it will make savings of just over €1m in the next three years as a result of renegotiating agreements for leasing the offices from Cork County Council. It said the money saved will be spent on healthcare services in Cork, Kerry, Waterford, South Tipperary, Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford.
The HSE spokeswoman said its regional management team and support staff will move into the Model Business Park during the next 12 months and this will improve efficiency.
“The HSE has sub-leased office space in the Model Business Park from Cork County Council at a favourable rate significantly below the current market value for Cork city. Existing furniture, office dividers and fittings have all been taken over from the county council. The fit-out costs of €339,000, excluding VAT, will be offset against the €1m savings over the three years of the sub-lease agreement.”
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