By Harriet Ernstsons Thursday 05 September 2013 Updated: 06/09 08:50
COUNCIL bosses have been accused of putting money before residents after rejecting bids from community groups for the former Youth House building.
Both Redditch Youth and Community Enterprise (RYCE) and the Oasis Christian Centre had submitted offers for the building to Worcestershire County Council, which closed it at the end of 2012, under the Government's Community Right to Bid scheme.
But it has now been decided to offer the Ipsley Street site for sale on the open market after both bids came in under the market valuation of £250,000.
RYCE chairman Ray Groves told the Standard: "The county council has decided to go for the money option rather than the community option. The Redditch community has come second to the smell of money.
"Everybody who we have come into contact with agrees with the idea and thinks the building is well worth saving so they are bound to be disappointed in the county council's short-term view.
"This is going to cost Redditch a lot of money in the long-term, this decision was made by people who have no connection with the town and are only looking at the bank balance. Unfortunately at the end of the day that's what they take as being the most important - the money over the community."
He said the organisation had taken into account the thousands of pounds it would have taken to restore the deteriorating building, which has been the target of vandalism since its closure, when submitting their bid.
He added he felt problems in the town such as admissions to A&E due to underage drinking and obesity levels would only increase as a result of the decision.
Rebecca Blake, Labour's Parliamentary spokeswoman for Redditch and who organised the initial meeting of residents concerned about the future of the site, said she was 'thoroughly disappointed' with the decision.
"I'm staggered the county council would rather potentially see a car park there than have young people doing meaningful activities which keep them off the streets."
Coun John Campion, responsible for transformation and commissioning on the council, said they had done everything possible to assist the community groups to bid but unfortunately the offers were substantially below the market value.
"As with all of our public assets, we have a responsibility to get the best possible price and value for the taxpayer whilst balancing community value," he said.
"These are challenging financial times for the county council and where we have the opportunity to generate income, we have to maximise this.
"The two unsuccessful bidders are welcome to submit revised offers and we will consider these alongside any other offers that we receive."
Rev Robin Baker from Oasis Christian Centre said he was unable to comment at the time the Standard went to press.
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