Play area, restaurant and toilets among land and property sold for £12.9m by Norfolk councils
PUBLISHED: 06:30 04 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:59 04 March 2019
Cuts in government funding and rising demand for services mean councils, including in Norfolk and Suffolk, are selling off land and property to bring in cash.
Research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed that, among land and properties sold in our region, were a play area, football club, community centre, public toilets and a restaurant.
In 2016, the government gave councils in England the power to use proceeds raised from selling land and buildings they own to fund reforms to their services - as long as the measures generated “ongoing savings”.
Previously, such one-off monies had to be used to fund the purchase of new assets.
The Bureau found that 64 local authorities have used money generated by selling publicly-owned spaces to support their budgets since this policy was introduced.
Despite the new guidelines only being in place for two years, nearly one in five councils in England are using asset sales in this way.
The research revealed that, councils in Norwich, Broadland, West Norfolk, South Norfolk, Great Yarmouth and North Norfolk have made 123 sales since 2014 - for a combined total of £12.9m. Breckland and Norfolk councils did not provide figures.
Among the sales was the £445,000 sale by North Norfolk District Council of Cromer Football Club’s home at Cabbell Park.
The site was sold to Cromer Group Practice, so GPs could move to Cabbell Park from Overstrand Road and share the site with the football club.
The council also sold its play area at Rectory Road in Edgefield. That was to Broadland Housing Association for £60,000.
In Norwich, the city council sold the Fourways community centre, in Stevenson Road, Bowthorpe to The Potter House Christian Fellowship for £140,000 and 21, Tombland, the home of Tatlers restaurant, for £340,000.
Not all the sales were to raise money - some were to save cash.
As part of a closure of public toilets to save £140,000 a year, Great Yarmouth Borough Council sold two public toilets in Caister-on-Sea for £1 each. The toilets in Beach Road and Second Avenue were sold to the parish council, so volunteers could keep the closure-threatened public conveniences open.