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Get your hands off 'county gems', says councillor
PLANS to flog scores of public sector buildings have been attacked by Labour politicians - who are demanding "Worcestershire is not for sale".
The county council's Labour group says it is planning to lobby against a move by seven different bodies to team up to sell properties.
As your Worcester News revealed two weeks ago, a major project is being planned which will see scores of unneeded properties belonging to councils, the police, NHS and fire service sold.
Labour claim the county council's Conservatives are trying to form a new company that it can sell off to the highest bidder.
It also says the move is too "short term" when better options could include renting out sites instead.
Councillor Richard Udall, from the group, said: "This is nothing more than a vehicle to carry off the county’s crown jewels and silver to form a company that will be sold off cheaply.
"This is daylight robbery, the council-owned farms alone are worth £20m and create an income each year to the county of £300,000.
"This is one of the county’s greatest assets seen as the jewel in crown and envy of other authorities.
"We have managed our estates efficiently and in a profitable way for years and the auditors over the years have only had praise for the council's stewardship.
"To cart off the assets in such a cavalier fashion is reckless and will leave the county penniless."
"We need to make it clear that Worcestershire is not for sale."
The criticism has been rejected by the Conservatives, which says having scores of empty buildings and unused assets is a waste of taxpayers' money.
By sharing space and selling unwanted assets, it is estimated to save the county council alone £49 million in maintenance costs over the next decade, and lead to a combined £118 million of sales.
Assets like the Guildhall, County Hall and Hindlip will be protected.
Councillor Adrian Hardman, county council leader, said: "When I first joined this council there was a strange culture of liking buildings, and trying to keep what we had, almost like some sense of civic pride.
"We estimate this will save us £49 million in revenue alone over the next 10 years and that money will have a direct impact on funding the front line.
"It's an entirely sensible thing to do."
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