The Red Cherry Coffee lounge is now open for customers to enjoy a drink – and perhaps a cake as part of a balanced and healthy diet – at the Kingswood Civic Centre.
The new facility marks the final element of a three-year project to improve public-facing services for the area, which has also seen major improvements to the One Stop Shop; the library service relocate to the Civic Centre; upgrades to the Council Chamber; and the leasing out of office space to partner organisations such as the Avon & Wiltshire Partnership, ensuring that the building remains an employment hub that drives footfall to local businesses.
Overall the project will see savings to the council’s annual budget of around £430,000, thanks in part to rental income from the office space and avoiding running costs for the old library building. Staff and residents using the key frontline services are also benefiting from new and improved facilities.
The Red Cherry Coffee lounge will be run by Integra, the Council’s trading arm, providing a service to staff and visitors to the Centre and anyone else locally who fancies a coffee, cake and a chat on their way past. Opening the new facility has created 10 jobs and any profits made are reinvested into council budgets.
The new-look One Stop Shop (OSS) at the Civic Centre provides all the services you’d expect. We deal with questions about council services including benefits, housing, Streetcare, refuse and recycling collections, planning, community care, grants, road repairs and much more.
The upgrade means that we have additional space to provide more PCs to access the internet and complete online forms, etc. This is vital to help customers access services. It has also been redesigned to improve the users’ experience, by making the space more welcoming and open plan, while also providing privacy for customers who need to discuss confidential matters.
The library, which is equipped with Open Access technology that allows registered users to use the facilities seven days-a-week, also has additional PCs to allow users IT access when the One Stop Shop is closed.
All available space has been used in the library to ensure we maximise the stock on display, whilst allowing space for children’s activities.
Since the new library opened, we have had over 20,000 visits and 300 more people have signed up for Open Access. During the summer holidays, library staff are working with the Coffee Lounge to offer lunch and library activities for children.
Improvements to the council chamber will help Members as well as residents engage with meetings and ultimately we expect to be able to webcast our public meetings.
The overarching project was agreed in July 2016 as part of our aim to deliver the best possible value for money to residents by making the most efficient use of our buildings. This work to enrich the centre of Kingswood is in addition to the £3milllion Love Our High Street investment, secured from the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) at the end of 2018, which will go into a range of schemes for the area.
The Red Cherry Coffee lounge was formally opened today (Friday 26 July) by Council Leader, Cllr Toby Savage and the Cabinet Member for Corporate Resources, Cllr Ben Burton, who both enjoyed a freshly brewed coffee and sampled some of the tasty cakes on offer.
Cllr Burton said: “We are really pleased to be able to complete this project, which has been part of our long-term vision and commitment to delivering the best value for money for residents, as well as the best possible services to the local community. The coffee lounge is the final piece of the jigsaw and really is the Red Cherry on the top of the hard work that has gone into the project.
“This council, like all others, has had to manage increasing demand for our services at a time of reducing budgets and so our watch words have been doing more with less. What this project has shown, among many others, however, is that spending less doesn’t have to mean reducing services. Tough financial times can lead to innovation, creativity and the opportunity to make improvements. By rationalising our estate we are able to save money and by generating rental income from our surplus office space we are able to invest our own resources into important frontline services.
“I would encourage locals visiting the One Stop Shop, the library, attending a council meeting or just passing by, to pop in and enjoy a coffee or a bite to eat, here in the heart of Kingswood at the Red Cherry Coffee lounge.”