New Council Policy Won’t Lead To Service Closures

town hall flowersThe Council’s Development Manager says a new policy on how the Authority manages its property won’t lead to services like Park House being closed down if there aren’t enough residents.

Diana Mompoloki was speaking in response to a question from Cllr Mollie Peacock at last week’s Full Council meeting.

Mollie raised concerns that the new Property Acquisition and Disposal Policy, approved by councillors at the meeting, could mean buildings that are under-used or vacant are classed as ‘surplus to requirements.’

But Diana assured her that any decisions affecting services would need to be approved by the Council first.

The new guidelines mean a more rigorous approach to buying or selling land and property in the future.

Diana said this has historically been done in a “very ad hoc way” by the authority with only some adhering to ‘best practice.’

Auditors had raised this as an issue.

It comes as several key properties owned by the Council, such as 6 Sally Port and the Porthmellon office unit, are in the process of being sold.

Diana said there are also a number of developments in the future, such as affordable housing, which will require land and sites.

The Ash Futures economic strategy commissioned by the Council earlier this year has recommended building up to 120 new homes on the islands by 2024.

In future all property being bought or sold will need to be valued by the District Valuer.

There’ll need to be a business case showing whether purchases contribute to service delivery, strategic development, or provide an investment return of at least 5%.

The policy also gives details of how the Council would undertake a compulsory purchase if agreement couldn’t be reached with the owner.

Cllr Christine Savill asked how this would work with the Duchy of Cornwall, which owns most of the land in Scilly.

Those powers are part of national laws, said Diana, and could be used against the Duchy if necessary, although she added that would be a last resort.

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