Stacks of paper removed from county council buildings in Hertfordshire as part of ‘Go Paperless’ drive

Mr Crudgington highlighted the amount of paper that had been removed during the ‘lockdown’ periods

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 9:32 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 9:34 am

If all the paper removed from county council offices since the start of the pandemic was to be stacked up, it would reach the top of The Shard.

Hertfordshire County Council’s director of resources Scott Crudgington made the astonishing revelation to councillors on Wednesday, September 15, when outlining the progress of the Go Paperless initiative.

The council’s ongoing drive to replace paper with digital recognises the environmental and financial impact of printing and paper use.

Hertfordshire County Council’s director of resources Scott Crudgington made the astonishing revelation to councillors

And the clear-out of paper – while most county council staff have been working from home – reflects the amount of paper the council no longer needs or uses.

At a meeting of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee on Wednesday, Mr Crudgington highlighted the amount of paper that had been removed during the ‘lockdown’ periods, as part of the ‘Go Paperless’ project.

And he stressed that it would not be making a return to the council’s offices – following the roll-out of increased digital technology.

“The amount of paper that we have been clearing out through this pandemic to make a number of changes for our workplaces programme is as high as The Shard,” said Mr Crudgington.

“And we have no intention of replacing all of those filing cabinets and all those processes to just refill it all with paper once again.

“So there is digital technology that has now been rolled out across the council to make it much easier to keep as much of it digital as we possibly can.”

It is understood that Mr Crudgington was particularly referring to the amount of paper that had been removed – and disposed of – from the council’s Farnham House offices, in Stevenage.

As part of the same presentation, Mr Cruddgington also highlighted the ongoing ‘Our Workplaces’ review looking at the use of sites in Hertford, Stevenage and Apsley near Hemel Hempstead.

But he stressed that there were no plans to sell off the landmark sites.

“We are not rushing-in to selling-off assets – don’t worry we are not selling County Hall or anything like that,” he said.

“But nonetheless there is opportunity for us to re-purpose some of these buildings to make them benefit.”

Whereas the majority of council meetings are continuing online, the overview and scrutiny committee met in person in the council chamber of County Hall.

And – after referring to suggestions from government that people should return to their workplaces – Liberal Democrat Cllr Lawrence Brass suggested that County Hall was ‘like the Mary Celeste’.

Mr Crudgington said the county council had taken the decision not to ‘re-open’ offices until the end of this month (September).

He told councillors there had been a number of adaptations that were required to offices and that they had wanted to wait until the end of the summer period.

However, he added that as part of the council’s ‘ways of working ‘ programme they would still be asking staff to think about ‘how’ they work – which may mean some working from home.

“It’s a much more flexible approach to the way that we work,” he said.

“Rather than in this building 3,000 people, 4,000 people, all converging on effectively a town every day – undertaking unnecessary car journeys and creating a commuter backlog unnecessarily when we don’t need it.”