The financial case for disposing of council assets is easy to understand. According to the Council’s Statement of Accounts we spent £15.92 million on interest payments on debt in 2014/15 with debt of £232 million. Most of that is for the Housing Revenue Account – meaning that millions a year in rent and leaseholder charges is swallowed up in interest payments.
There is also £66 million of General Fund debt with a £2.2 million bill for interest. To put this in context the total revenue from Council Tax is £52.5 million.
But there is also economic and environmental case not to have unused – or underused – council buildings and land sitting idle as eyesores.
For example there is an extraordinarily large single space, with a high roof, and according to LBHF assets list, about 910 square metres behind 50 Ravenscourt Gardens.
Tim Harvey, the chairman of Ravenscourt Gardens Residents asks:
“Are there, or could there be, any plans to restore 50 Ravenscourt Gardens to its former glory as part of any redevelopment of the store? As a result of this historic vandalism the house is in a very sorry state and is a blight on the Grade II-listed street scape as a whole.”
Nigel Brown, Head of Asset Strategy and Portfolio Management, responds:
“There are no current plans to dispose of Ravenscourt Stores. Building Property Management has been tasked by Councillor Schmid to undertake asset reviews of all its assets by late summer. Asset reviews are part of LBHF Asset Management Plan.”
I will let you know when I have more news.