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Staffordshire County Council sells off buildings and land worth £47 million

Staffordshire County Council sold off public buildings and land valued at more than £47 million in just over four years, it has been revealed.

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Staffordshire County Council

Figures revealed that the county council sold off 87 assets between April 2014 and July 2018, including former school buildings and land, day centres and youth centres.

Since April 2016, the authority has spent almost £36m of the proceeds on financing reforms to allow it to save money – a scheme known as “flexible use of capital receipts” which was brought in by the Government. This amount was the second highest of all the local authorities that responded to a Freedom of Information request – after Birmingham City Council.

The authority is making £30 million worth of cuts over the next financial year.

Between April 2017 and July 2018 Staffordshire County Council spent £839,234 of capital receipts on redundancies. During the same period there were a total of 203 redundancies.

But the authority has stressed that day centres and youth centres were closed before the flexible use of capital receipts scheme came into being however.

Among them was Chase Day Services land and buildings, valued at £600,003, which was sold to D&G Properties during 2017/18. Land at the i54, near Wolverhampton, valued at £1.8m was sold to Aberdeen city council.

Land and buildings and the former Stafford Library, worth £600,000, was sold to Stafford and Rural Homes, while the North Walls car park in Stafford, valued at £1.2m, was also sold

In November the council agreed to sell the former Whittington Youth Centre to Fodens Development Limited and in October it was agreed to sell the former Brewood Youth Centre to the Trustees of the 2nd Brewood Scout Group.

Council deputy leader Alan White said: “The majority of these day centres were closed in early 2014 as new tailored community offers, plus our promotion of personalisation and choice in the care people receive meant the numbers using them had fallen and they were no longer fit for purpose.

“Since these centres were closed five years ago, we have seen more people having choice and control over their own care, and having accessing the many different opportunities available to them.

“Separately to this in 2016, councils were able to start using flexible receipts from the future sale of buildings to help fund transformation projects for the benefits of residents.

“Rather than allowing buildings to stand idle or fall into disrepair, we are committed to maximising the return for taxpayers and breathing new life into sites to support health projects, housing and the local economy where possible.”

Mark Deaville, cabinet member for commercial said “As a well-run council, we are committed to getting the best use of our empty and underused building to get the best return for taxpayers and the best results for Staffordshire people.

By Kerry Ashdown, Local Democracy Reporter