Libraries and children's centres among buildings council is considering selling to save cash

A list of council-owned buildings being reviewed for possible sale or redevelopment includes 10 libraries and 17 children centres
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The 79 community buildings Peterborough City Council (PCC) is considering selling off includes 17 children’s centres and 10 libraries, a new report has revealed.

The council report also says that 36 community centres (or similar) are under review, as well as seven buildings used as leisure facilities and nine simply marked "other" .

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The report was prepared after PCC councillors asked that the buildings the council is considering selling, repurposing or redeveloping be made public before they would agree to discuss it.

Peterborough City CouncilPeterborough City Council
Peterborough City Council
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But while PCC has prepared a new report detailing the number of different types of buildings it may dispose of in future, it has stopped short of publicly naming any of them.

At the earlier discussion of the list, Cllr Nick Sandford (Liberal Democrats, Paston and Walton) said: “If the council is considering the closure of community centres that are used by a significant section of the population, that information should be made available to the public at an early stage to give them an opportunity to comment on it.

“If the council fails to do that, the council is not being respectful to the public.”

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But council officers responded that it isn’t yet appropriate to share the list as no decisions have been made about which buildings will be sold.

Simon Lewis, PCC’s service director for asset management, said that, “in our view, it’s not appropriate to share the information in the public domain” and that operators and stakeholders would not want to hear the information for the first time this way.

The fact that no decisions have yet been made and that consultation with the public, as well as with those involved in the running of the buildings, would occur before any are sold is reiterated in the new report.

It also reiterates that PCC “cannot afford to bring its current estate into an acceptable standard”.

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The stock is “generally not in good condition”, it continues, and would need expensive maintenance to stop it from deteriorating further.

PCC has, moreover, been advised to identify assets it could sell to improve its financial position by the independent panel that currently oversees its governance and finances.

Its new report says that it could save up to £3.9m which would otherwise need to be spent on the buildings and generate £4m capital receipts by selling, repurposing and redeveloping some of them.

While it would lose around £100,000 per year in lettings, some of this could be made up by relocating organisations into other council buildings, it adds, and the council would also save around £400,000 in revenue.

The new report is due to be discussed by councillors on Monday, 23rd October.