£46.5m needed to repair Peterborough City Council property - but no money available

The meeting of the Audit Committee
The meeting of the Audit Committee
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A total of £46.5 million is needed to repair some of the 1,741 pieces of land and property owned by Peterborough City Council, but there is no money available to do it.

That was the stark message given in a report on ‘Investment Acquisition Strategy’ by Peter Carpenter, the council’s acting corporate director of resources at Monday’s Audit Committee meeting.

“The council owns, leases or has ‘implied ownership’ of many buildings throughout the city, many of which need repairs if they were to be considered for sale,” he explained.

Cllr Angus Ellis said: “What does ‘implied ownership’ of a building mean?”

Mr Carpenter explained: “The ownership may be in question because it is so old there are no documents proving actual ownership.

“It may have happened at some point in the past when occupation of land took place inconsistent with the rights of the owner, or without the permission of the owner, or even where the transfer of property from one party to another took place and the records have simply been lost over the passage of time.”

Chairman Cllr David Over asked: “Does the council own many buildings like this?”

Mr Carpenter said he wasn’t sure exactly how many, but added: “Yes, there are some in the acquisitions portfolio.”

The diverse property estate owned by the city council is worth £425.5 million and spread throughout its administrative area.

The ‘assets and acquisitions portfolio’ as it is known costs tax payers more than £18.8 million per annum in running costs – including buildings currently used by the authority –  but generates an income of £3.8 million in rent.

Mr Carpenter went on to explain: “Some buildings are in various states of repair, and that backlog is currently running at £46.5 million – and there isn’t any money available to do the work.”

Cllr Over said: “This is a matter we must urgently look into.”

Robert Alexander, Local Democracy Reporting Service