Grandmother so “affronted” by state of Norfolk social worker offices that she offers to refurbish them

Havenbridge House in Great Yarmouth. The offices could be the new home for the town's children's ser

Havenbridge House in Great Yarmouth. The offices could be the new home for the town's children's services team. - Credit: Archant © 2011

Social workers are becoming 'demoralised and distrustful' of bosses because they are still having to work in 'inadequate' offices which were meant to be a temporary measure, a council report has revealed.

The report into Norfolk County Council's children's services team in Great Yarmouth also showed a grandmother who visited the offices was so 'affronted' by conditions that she offered to help refurbish them.

However, council bosses aim to tackle the problem with a proposal to close Ferry House and Nelson House and base some 200 workers in offices at Havenbridge House.

The county council's controlling Labour/Liberal Democrat cabinet will be asked on Monday to task officers to agree a lease on Havenbridge House.

The report to councillors, drawn up by interim director of children's services Sheila Lock and Peter Timmins, interim head of finance, describes the current buildings as 'in a poor state of repair', 'over-crowded' and as giving a 'poor presentation of service to visitors'.

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The report adds: 'There have been numerous complaints from families about the office accommodation, including one grandparent who was so affronted by the conditions of the office space her daughter and granddaughter were seen in that she offered to assist with any refurbishments.'

Staff in Great Yarmouth were told in 2011 the temporary office arrangements would last up to one year, yet they are still in them.

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The report said: 'We currently, therefore, have a staff group who are becoming demoralised and distrustful of the organisational leadership.'

The children's services department was criticised by Ofsted last year and the council is working to turn it around.

The report states: 'The improvement work within children's services is intensive and demanding - staff are working hard to make the required changes, but the accommodation difficulties are having an impact on morale and workforce retention.'

The estimated cost of the potential move is being kept confidential.

James Joyce, cabinet member for safeguarding children at Norfolk County Council, said: 'Many of the families that visit our offices are going through a very difficult time in their lives and we want to make sure that they feel comfortable and welcome.

'The current accommodation is in significant need of updating and staff are endeavouring to do their very best for children and their families, in spite of their working conditions.

'However, better equipped offices would help to further boost morale and support wider improvements within children's services.'

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