Sale of Youth House criticised

By Connie Osborne Friday 28 March 2014 Updated: 28/03 09:01

THE SALE of Redditch Youth House has been criticised by councillors for not taking into account its community value.

Peter Parkes, Worcestershire County Council’s head of property services, was quizzed by the Resources Overview and Scrutiny panel as to why the Ipsley Street building had not been sold to a community group or the social impact of bids assessed during the process.

The Standard reported in December how questions had been raised over the sale of the building which closed in 2012 as part of £1.4million of budget cuts by Worcestershire County Council.

Despite two community groups submitting offers for the site as part of the Right to Bid Scheme, they were turned down because they were under the market value of £200,000.

Coun Robin Lunn, who represents Redditch North, told last Thursday’s (March 20) meeting: “I think social value should have been taken into account when looking at bids and I know these groups strived to retain the service within the town.”

Coun Marc Bayliss, for St Peter in Worcester, added: “This clearly had a social premium value to the community, and just because we no longer provide that service doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a value within the community.”

But Mr Parkes said the county council had already decided at a cabinet meeting the site needed to be sold for the market value to meet the council’s debts.

“To sell at under value would have been directly opposed to cabinet’s decision made in November.”

He added social premium was not taken into account because the Youth House was no longer a service the county council provided and social value legislation did not apply to property disposals.

“We followed an open and transparent process and had given every opportunity to the community groups to raise the money,” he said.

“The relevant cabinet member supported the decision that I made because of the previous decision made in cabinet.

“If I had agreed to sell under value it would be flying in the face of this council’s cabinet.”

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