Anyone who has moved house will know it’s on the list of most stressful things you can do.
First comes that itch to go; followed by all the to-ing and fro-ing - the meetings with estate agents and solicitors; Eventually you find a buyer; after a bit of haggling you agree on a price, complete the deal - and then the real fun starts.
So imagine what it’s like when the building you are leaving has been in the family around 100 years and you’ve got thousands of pieces of furniture to fit into the removal van.
Well, last Monday, we finally did it. We closed the door on the Lansdown Road site in Cheltenham which has been home to Gloucestershire Constabulary for almost a century. CALA homes now have the keys marking the end of an era.
I’m told the average house moves these days takes about six months, well this has taken the best part of a decade. The constabulary had initially intended to sell the site years ago, probably even before Police and Crime Commissioners were a twinkle in the Home Secretary’s eye. But then, the state of the property market meant it simply wasn’t viable.
Things really got going when the buildings – all four of them - were fully and finally vacated in November 2016 and the staff re-located. The moving process has been in full swing ever since. Four buildings, four handymen – so they have certainly had their hands full with nearly 2,500 desks and chairs, 100s of filing cabinets computers and other assorted bits of IT to sort and shift.
We were able to donate a great deal of it to charity though some things you can’t give away as, we discovered, the second hand market is awash with office furniture. Filing cabinets had to be completely taken apart to make sure that the odd file hadn’t fallen down the side, and potentially end up in the wrong hands!
Four men, around 150 days and an estimated 7,500 man hours to completely strip the buildings of everything inside – not the answer to an A level maths question, but the time it has taken.
Having had my first interview to join the police there, I find it quite moving to imagine the hundreds and thousands of other colleagues who passed through the buildings and who at some point in their careers, called Cheltenham home including more than a dozen Chief Constables.
Of course, Cheltenham retains a police presence as we still have the newly refurbished community police station a few doors along the road because as with any move, when one door closes another opens. So thanks for your support. Here’s to the next 100 years!