Questions raised over sale of Youth House

By Harriet Ernstsons Friday 20 December 2013 Updated: 20/12 08:17

A PRIVATE bid which would have helped the community carry on using the Youth House has been turned down by the county council.

The sale of the former Youth House has been branded 'a fiasco' after it was revealed bosses had rejected not only two bids from community groups, but a third from a private buyer who wanted to partially use the site for residents' benefit.

Worcestershire County Council announced on Wednesday (December 18) it had sold the Ipsley Street site - left empty after the Youth House was closed in December 2012 as part of a £1.4 million funding cut - to the highest bidder.

Rebecca Blake, Labour Parliamentary spokeswoman for Redditch, said she was 'appalled' and wanted to know how much the building had been sold for.

"One community bid was just 13 per cent below market value and would have seen WCC get the cash it is so hungry for as well as seeing the Redditch community benefit, yet it's been tossed aside. Another commercial bidder, who would work with the community has also been ignored by WCC.

"Has Conservative county councillor John Campion fully considered all of the bids for the Youth House, as he must convince me and local people the final sale of the Youth House can stand up to scrutiny, because it appears Redditch is not getting a fair deal from County Hall."

Ray Groves, chair of Redditch Youth and Community Enterprise which bid to take over the building and use it to provide positive activities for residents including the young people who previously used the Youth House, said the decision showed the county council did not appreciate the people of Redditch.

"The Conservative led county council has once again shown its disrespect for the people of Redditch. They have put money before the community."

Initially community groups were given six months to bid for the site but after these offers were turned down, it was put on the open market - attracting six offers which the council said it had accepted the highest of. But the Standard understands one private buyer had incorporated an element of community use - including joint working with RYCE - into their offer.

Coun John Campion, responsible for transformation and commissioning at the county council, said: "As much as we would have liked to proceed with one of the bids from the two local community groups, neither group was able to match the market value.

"Their offers were some 15 per cent and 33 per cent short of the best offer received on the open market.

A county spokesman added they were not able to consider the community element of the private buyer's bid due to the way the bid had been submitted.

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