Get your hands off county gems, says councillor

PLANS to flog scores of public sector buildings have been attacked by Labour politicians - saying Worcestershire is not for sale.

The county council's Labour group says it is planning to lobby against a move by seven different bodies to team up to sell properties.

The Advertiser revealed two weeks ago that a major project is being planned which will see scores of unneeded properties belonging to Redditch Council, the police, NHS and fire service sold.

Labour claim the county council's Conservatives are trying to form a new company that it can sell off to the highest bidder.

It also says the move is too short term when better options could include renting out sites instead.

Councillor Richard Udall, from the group, said: "This is nothing more than a vehicle to carry off the county’s crown jewels and silver to form a company that will be sold off cheaply.

"We need to make it clear that Worcestershire is not for sale."

The criticism has been rejected by the Conservatives, which says having scores of empty buildings and unused assets is a waste of taxpayers' money.

The project is expected to include the NHS trust, West Mercia Police, the fire service, Warwickshire Police as partners as well as Redditch Council.

By sharing space and selling unwanted assets, it is estimated to save the county council alone £49 million in maintenance costs over the next decade, and lead to a combined £118 million of sales.

Councillor Adrian Hardman, county council leader, said: "When I first joined this council there was a strange culture of liking buildings, and trying to keep what we had, almost like some sense of civic pride.

"We estimate this will save us £49 million in revenue alone over the next 10 years and that money will have a direct impact on funding the front line.

"It's an entirely sensible thing to do."

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