An investigation by Herts County Councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, has revealed that the Conservative run county Council has spent over £7m on securing and heating some 29 empty properties it owns around the County. This includes no less than five schools it has closed down!
Staggering large amounts have been spent on some sites such as the Former Little Furze School in South Oxhey which the county closed back in 2004 has seen a spend of £734,366 on security, rates and electric bills-the later was over £100,000!
Meanwhile the Bill Everett site in North Watford, which the county council closed in 2009, has cost council taxpayers over half million
pounds on security and other bills. This site is due to be demolished by the county Council before they offer it for sale but they cannot yet
find a contractor to do it. The likely cost of demolition is estimated at another £172,000!
“Frankly these figures are staggering and worrying – £7m could have been far better spent on new schools or our roads. There can be no
justification for keeping some sites empty and vacant for 10 years without either trying to sell them to the benefit of the council tax
papers or bringing them back into community use. It is no good for the Tories at county hall to hide behind the smoke screen of “we are not
ready to sell, we might get a better price if we keep them.” They cannot justify mothballing sites for up to 10 years! ” Said Liberal Democrat
Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst (Central Watford and Oxhey).
“The £7m of course relates to sites the county still own. In the last year they sold four site . I have found out that the security costs
alone was another £258,000. I thus expect the figures to go up even further if one goes back to earlier years”. Said Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst.
“Spending over £7m on empty and vacant sites cannot be good value for anyones money- except the security companies!. It seams that the
Conservative county council lacks a strategic plan for its vacant sites on how to use or depose of then for the benefit for residents. They have lost the plot and that this is costing us money!. I have now asked the Chief Executive to investigate why this spend has gone unnoticed and unreported until I investigated it.!” demanded the Liberal Democrat