Mass public sector building sell-off endorsed by council

Bromsgrove Advertiser: Hard cash: Building sell off backed by Worcestershire County Council Hard cash: Building sell off backed by Worcestershire County Council

A MASS sell-off of public sector buildings, including some belonging to Redditch Council, has been given the green light by Worchestershire County Council in the hope it can generate £118 million for front line services.

A unique plan among the county's biggest public sector employers will see scores of un-needed properties belonging to councils, the police, NHS and fire service flogged.

The project was supported by County Hall's Conservative cabinet last week despite strong opposition from Labour.

Labour said the council was "trying to sell the family silver" but the leadership said the project was about raising extra funds for services and getting rid of clunky, expensive properties.

The project is expected to include seven different bodies including the Redditch Council and the county council such as the NHS trust, West Mercia Police, the fire service and Warwickshire Police.

A report says by sharing office space, downsizing and selling off property will save the county council alone £49 million in maintenance costs over the next decade, and could result in an estimated £118 million of combined sales.

Councillor John Campion, county council cabinet member for transformation and commissioning, said: "This is another example of an area where we've got a great history, but we are planning to turn up the heat and do things differently.

"We spend millions on supporting our properties, this proposal is about working together and saving money.

"Our number one priority is supporting growth in the economy and by working as one we want to not only get maximum value for the taxpayer but maximum value for the economy."

Councillor Peter McDonald, Labour group leader, said his rivals were "selling the family silver" and claimed "crown jewels" are under threat.

But Councillor Simon Geraghty, deputy leader, said "nobody wants to see resources tied up in empty buildings".

Councillor Adrian Hardman, county council leader, said: "We estimate it will save us £49 million in revenue alone over the next 10 years - that will have a direct impact on funding the front line, it's an entirely sensible move."

A business plan is currently being put together before final decisions will be made.

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