Major spending plans revealed for replacement flooring at The Word in South Shields

Major plans for new vinyl flooring at a South Shields cultural venue have been revealed by town hall bosses.
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South Tyneside Council recently published spending plans for the 2024/25 financial year, including a proposed council tax hike and millions of pounds of savings, as well as capital investments into housing, education, transport and leisure across the borough.

One major investment includes proposed works at the council’s cultural venue The Word, National Centre for the Written Word.

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The venue was built under the council’s previous South Shields 365 regeneration scheme, and officially opened to the public in October, 2016.

Nearly a decade later, South Tyneside Council said repairs are needed to deal with an issue which has developed, particularly on the ground floor.

The Word, in South Shields. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.The Word, in South Shields. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.
The Word, in South Shields. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Finance chiefs have said this includes parts of the floor covering ‘lifting’ and causing potential trip hazards, with new capital investment proposed on the grounds of health and safety.

The council said The Word is a well-used and popular venue, with the 2024/25 investment forming part of the local authority’s wider drive to keep its buildings fit-for-purpose.

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According to the medium-term financial plan, around £400,000 has been allocated for replacement vinyl flooring throughout the cultural venue.

However, the allocation covers contingencies and the council hopes the final project will cost less when the scheme goes out to tender.

Councillor Joanne Bell, the council’s cabinet member for governance, finance and corporate services, said there were plans to “minimise disruption” for visitors during the works.

Cllr Bell said: “Investing in the maintenance of our assets is essential so that we can ensure we have world-class facilities for residents and visitors both now and in the future.

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“The Word has been a major visitor attraction and community space for almost a decade and the medium-term financial plan identifies investment for vinyl flooring throughout the building.

“To minimise disruption, the intention would be for all preparation work to take place outside of normal operating hours, allowing the less intrusive work to take place during operational hours with areas cordoned off on a phased basis.

“The Word welcomes over 250,000 visitors a year so every effort will be made to maintain normal operations whilst work is ongoing so that people can continue to enjoy this fantastic asset of the borough”.

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South Tyneside Council is expected to involve a specialist external supplier for the works at The Word, rather than carrying out the works in-house.

A final decision on the £400,000 budget allocation will be made as part of the council’s annual budget-setting process, which concludes with a full council meeting at South Shields Town Hall next month.

Cllr Bell added: “[The investment] is more of a necessity than a wish, it’s a health and safety issue.

“If we don’t do it, it’s only going to get worse.”

South Tyneside Council’s cabinet will consider the medium-term financial plan when it next meets on Wednesday, January 31, 2024.

Spending plans will then be considered by all elected councillors at the annual budget meeting on Thursday, February 22, 2024.