Council Taking Stock Of Its Property

The Town Hall

The Town Hall

The Council is to look at the way it manages the properties it owns.

External auditors have been urging the authority to produce an asset management plan for several years. A draft version was brought to last Thursday’s Policy and Resources meeting by Director of Finance Peter Lawrence-Roberts.

But councillors were keen to get a date when a final version would be published.

Mr Lawrence-Roberts described the report as, “very much a work in progress” and said he hoped it would be completed by early summer, taking into account the workload in his department.

But Cllr Richard McCarthy said the auditors had asked it be completed by March 2013 and said the draft plan still lacked a huge amount of detail. “It’s a shell, and a good start,” he said, “but no more than that.”

The report only listed properties managed by the P&R committee and not those of others like Community Services, which manages the sports hall, swimming pool, the industrial estate and council housing stock.

Mr Lawrence-Roberts said the intention was to take a more rigorous look at their property, especially as these are a significant cost when the Council is looking for budget savings.

But Cllr Fred Ticehurst said they needed to exercise, “a degree of caution” before selling off the crown jewels.

Councillors agreed to set up a new Corporate Asset Management Group and get an update at their next meeting in July.

The total value of assets managed by P&R, including the Town Hall, Wesleyan Chapel, the new Porthcressa facilities and the old Carn Thomas school site was £44m.

This increased by almost £8.5m in the last year.