On 23rd May 1988, I walked into the Stevenage Office of Land Registry for the first time as an employee of Her Majesty’s Civil Service. And pretty much every working day of my life since.
Needless to say, in twenty-one years, I’ve seen a fair few changes. But none so big as the one we’re all expecting to be announced next Tuesday. Well, I say expecting. The fact is, all we really know is that on 11 o’clock on Tuesday 20 October, all staff in all Land Registry offices will be gathered together for The Big Announcement. The Land Registry board have been working on a programme of major changes, and that’s when we’ll all be told the proposals.
Proposals that are likely to involve outsourcing many jobs, and are certainly going to involve office closures.
And so we’re all on tenterhooks. About eight thousand of us, if I remember rightly.
Here’s what we know (off the top of my head):
- We still have office space for around 12000 staff.
- We currently has around 8000 staff.
- In the future, we could probably do the work on 3-4000 staff.
- The last two years have seen unprecedented losses.
And so the board have been pretty open about some things. The Chief Executive has openly said that it would be unthinkable for Tuesday’s announcement not to involve office closures.
Needless to say, in the build up to the announcement, rumours and speculation have been rife, and are growing and changing every day; inevitable in the circumstances. There are so many constantly changing rumours flying around that it would be impossible – and perhaps misleading – to mention them here.
At a local level, the Stevenage Office is in a prime site – a large chunk of freehold land in the very heart of the Town Centre. A couple of years ago it would have been worth a lot of money, especially as Stevenage Town Centre was due a massive, and much-needed, redevelopment. Unfortunately the same recession that has led to such a huge drop in Land Registry intakes has also scaled back the potential redevelopment. Our land might not be quite such a draw for potential developers as it was. As many people seem sure we’re closing as seem sure we’re staying.
In truth, none of us will know until Tuesday. And the chances are there’ll be a whole lot of new rumours flying around tomorrow.
And as for how I’ll respond if Stevenage is to close? That’s a subject for a whole new article.