COUNCIL chiefs in Worcestershire insist their treasured public farms will not be sold - despite the pressure to get rid of more property.

The Conservative leadership says it would rather focus on trying to release more surplus buildings than re-consider the future of its 95 farms and smallholdings.

It comes despite the temptation that it could rake in multi-millions in one-off cash.

As your Worcester News revealed last year, some backbench councillors suggested an investigation should start over letting some of the assets go.

County Hall's 95 sites cover 3,300 acres of land and range from small plots of agricultural land to larger farms, bringing in rental income worth £300,000 a year to the public coffers.

Since then a new drive has launched to try and claw back £10 million in capital receipts from selling property by 2020.

In recent years more and more top-tier authorities have sold off either most or all of their farming assets, especially ones covering rural counties.

But Councillor Marc Bayliss, the cabinet member for transformation and commissioning, says any idea it should be looked at in Worcestershire is off the agenda.

He said: "It is not about selling the family silver, we are not going to consider selling off our smallholdings.

"We make a good earning out of them, it supports the rural economy, so letting them isn't something we are going to do."

Speaking during a cabinet meeting, he said the current project to release more property would not see it broadened to the farming land.

It echoed remarks made one year ago by Worcestershire farmer Rob Adams, a Tory councillor who lives in Spetchley and looks after beef cattle at Aston Hall Farm, in White Ladies Aston.

At the time Councillor Adams said he would "never" back any proposals to sell the farming estate, saying it would be like flogging the family silver.

Over the last 15 years the council has sold 54 smallholdings to long-standing tenants across Worcestershire, but the general policy is to keep them in-house.

They were originally bought to give returning first world war soldiers a route into agriculture.

In recent years authorities in areas like Leicestershire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Somerset have raked in millions from selling most or all of their stocks.

* The great shrinking estate: Council buildings 'bonfire' to continue to rake in £10m