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Sandwell Council rakes in nearly £30 million from selling off its land

By Jamie Brassington | Sandwell | News | Published:

Sandwell Council has earned more than £27million from selling off 600 plots of land, the Express & Star can reveal.

Steve Eling, leader of Sandwell Council

But the cash-strapped authority sold more than three times as much land as neighbouring Black Country authorities combined in the past five years.

Sandwell Council leader councillor Steve Eling said: “We are making great strides in bringing new developments of housing and business to Sandwell, removing often eyesore plots of derelict land and raising money to pay for capital improvements like roads, housing, leisure centres and parks.

“Selling surplus council land provides sites for much-needed homes and new businesses.

"This helps create jobs, boosts the local economy and also means the council no longer has to spend money maintaining these sites.”

Among land sold off by the council include the former Fir Tree School, in Yewtree Estate, West Bromwich, land off High Street in Cradley Heath and land in Popes Lane, Oldbury.

A £27 million Steel & Alloy Processing factory will now be built in Popes Lane and is set to create 50 jobs.

How the new Steel & Alloy Processing factory could look

The figures were revealed following a Freedom Of Information request, which come in the wake of allegations of misconduct at the council, involving a former councillor with land sales and quashing parking tickets for family members.

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A total of 598 plots of land have been sold by council bosses since April 2012, generating £27,233,798. On average, one piece of land was sold for £45,541.

But in Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton combined, 166 plots were sold for £36,544,457, with an average of £220,147 made from each land sale.

A spokesman for Sandwell Council said the land sold off has 'generally been vacant sites of unused land and/or subject to ground leases where the tenant has built a building'.

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Between April 2015 and May 2016 alone, Sandwell Council sold off 196 plots of land for £6.2m. In 2014/15, 151 plots of land were sold for £4.9m.

This FOI revealing the figures was published five months late by Sandwell Council.

In other years, a total of 80 plots were sold off in 2012/2013, generating £6.5m for the council. Meanwhile 99 plots were sold off in 2013/14 earning the council £4.9m. In the most recent year in 2016/17, 72 plots were sold off for £4.5m.

Elsewhere in the Black Country, Dudley Council made £8,311,289 from selling off 42 plots of land over the past five years, an average of £197,887 per plot.

In Walsall, 41 plots were sold generating £6,983,937 with an average of £170,399. In Wolverhampton, £21,249,231 was made from the sale of 83 plots, with an average of £256,014.

North of the border, Staffordshire County Council made £48,093,554 from the sale of 135 plots of land since April 2012, an average of £356,248.

Former councillor Mahboob Hussain is set to face a hearing with a council watchdog to answer a number of alleged code of conduct breaches, which were revealed in the Wragge Report published in 2016. He has always denied any wrongdoing.

Jamie Brassington

By Jamie Brassington
Trainee Multi-Media Journalist - @JamieB_Star

Reporter covering Dudley, Sandwell and Wyre Forest. Also dabble in sport. Call me on 01384353205 or email jamie.brassington@expressandstar.co.uk.

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