Sale of Salvation Army building in Grimsby 'saved money'
THE leader of the council and a director of the company that bought the former Salvation Army building for £225,000 have both defended the transaction as something that saved taxpayers' money.
As reported, North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC) sold the old Salvation Army building to company 34 Brighowgate for £225,000, without advertising the property or informing ward councillors.
It was a move that angered ward councillors Andrew De Freitas and Christina McGilligan-Fell who believed it was undervalued and said that neighbours felt "uncomfortable" about it becoming a House of Multiple Occupancy.
However, council leader Chris Shaw (Lab, Sidney Sussex), has defended the decision, claiming that policy has now changed so that all property sales are put out to tender, such as the Lindsey Lower School site on Clee Road which is currently on the market for a guide price of £750,000-£l-million.
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He said: "We had a list of properties we were willing to dispose of which people could check and make an offer. This was the best offer we had.
"It is a policy we inherited from the Liberal Democrats' administration – of which Mr De Freitas was the head – but now we put all properties out to tender.
"The alternative would have been to leave the property empty for months on end and pay to look after it.
"We now have £225,000 in the council coffers which we didn't have before so I am happy with the outcome."
Director of 34 Brighowgate, Adrian Smith, also defended the price offered for the building.
Mr Smith was also involved in the buying process of the Thrunscoe Infants School site in Cleethorpes for £516,000 – which Snape Properties plan to develop into 35 new homes – and one of the bids for Lindsey Lower School.
He said: "Those who say it was bought for less than market value obviously know little about it.
"It is derelict, has problems with the roof, and the main building is suffering from severe subsidence and requires underpinning.
"To develop it as we intended would cost in excess of a million pounds.
"Every month it remained empty, it would have cost the council – and therefore the taxpayer – a great deal of money to maintain.
"The council listed a number of properties it wished to sell. We made them an offer and they accepted. The council had clear guidelines on asset disposal procedure, to which we all adhered."
Mr Smith, also wished to clarify his position in the sale and defended against suggestions made online that they were sold on for a profit.
"I was a director of 34 Brighowgate, which bought the former Salvation Army property, and remain so," he said.
"Laurie Gillan has taken over as managing director, as he has more experience in managing properties, whereas my experience is in negotiating the purchase of a property.
"The Thrunscoe Infants School site was also not sold on for a profit by myself, as Snape Properties were and still are the only buyer.
"I have been involved in the negotiation process and Snape Properties, which is a quality development company, will develop the site.
"Both properties had to have the approval of central government for their disposal by NELC, which was given."
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