Plans to relocate Hartlepool’s registration service has been approved - at a total cost of £90,000

Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.

PLANS to relocate a council’s registration service for births, deaths and marriages, have been approved - at a total cost of £90,000.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s finance and policy committee took the decision to move the service within the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road, instead of relocating back to the former base at The Willows, in Raby Road.

The register office in Raby Road was closed in 2011 as part of budget cuts, and the service was re-located within Hartlepool Civic Centre.

But now councillors have agreed to move it to another part of the Civic Centre, onto Level 1.

That option will cost £90,575, whereas moving to The Willows would have cost £185,800.

A council report said the £90,000 will include £38,545 on building works, £13,100 on a platform lift and electrical work, £3,275 on external works and just over £30,000 on mechanical and electrical installation work.

The committee had met once before in November to discuss the two options, but at that meeting it was agreed to defer while more information was gathered and councillors were critical of the report at the time.

Dave Stubbs, the council’s chief executive, speaking at the recent meeting said in light of the financial situation and the fact that the vast majority of weddings were held away from the Civic Centre, the proposal to move the service to Level 1 of the Civic Centre made the most sense.

Officers recommend the council relocates the service within the Civic Centre as it is well-known and situated in the centre of town.

The report also said that option will be the most cost-effective use of staff resources.

Mr Stubbs said: “We strongly recommend the service to go to Level 1, with the various work, to make a service that will be fitting for the registration of deaths, births and also weddings.”

He said the current area within the Civic Centre is not ideal for a service that is “well liked” by the public.

Since the first report was written the costs associated with relocating to Level 1 had increased and Andrew Atkin, the assistant chief executive said that was because further discussions meant that a doorway direct into the waiting area would be included as part of the scheme.

Meanwhile, councillors also questioned what the public would do for toilets and Mr Stubbs said the existing toilets on Level 1 would be used.

Marriage ceremonies will continue to be held at the Middlegate Room other than for couples who want to undertake a Statutory Register Office marriage or civil partnership.

A report said less than 30 statutory marriages/civil partnerships are undertaken each year and the ceremonial Mayor Stephen Akers-Belcher had said those could take place in the Mayor’s Parlour, assuming the room is available at the required time.

Committee members approved the plans and that the one-off capital costs are funded from the forecast 2013-14 outturn, following full council approval.

The finance and policy committee also agreed that once the Community Justice Integrated Team has moved from The Willows, the building be “declared surplus” and marketed for sale.