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Land sale to plug funding shortfall

10:36 05 June 2013

The Civic Centre, Barnstaple

The Civic Centre, Barnstaple

Archant

Council to sell off 18 land and property assets to help maintain capital spending programme.

NORTH Devon Council is looking to sell off surplus assets in a bid to plug a shortfall in government funding.

The council has earmarked 18 assets for potential sale, including land currently used for parking, small plots of grassy, wooded, garden and unkempt areas, as well as some buildings.

The Executive committee met yesterday (Tuesday) to approve proposals for land in Braunton; Fremington; Umberleigh; South Molton; Mariansleigh; Barnstaple; West Down; Ilfracombe; and Filleigh.

Deputy leader Cllr Rodney Cann said that while some assets were of nominal value, others could potentially be ‘very valuable’ depending on the markets.

He said: “I am sure that given the right circumstances, we could be sitting on a significant funding pot here.

“It’s impossible to put a value on it until we take it to the market but we could be sitting on a nice little earner.

“There are parcels of land that we have been talking about disposing of for several years and now is the time to get our act together and go to the market to test it.

“Some will add tremendous value to nearby landowners while others could add very little value.”

Cllr Cann said the sale of land would help the council to maintain the capital spending programme.

“We need to reinvest in areas where we are desperately short of cash because of government cutbacks,” he added.

The council’s government grant for 2013-14 is £5.6million – £2.7million less than in 2010-11.

Its revenue budget for this year is £12.1m, compared with £15m in 2010-11.

Steve Hearse, interim head of financial services, said: “Following this reduction in budget the council is looking at every opportunity to save money, work more efficiently and generate income.

“One way of doing this is disposing of assets that are not being used or that are not economic to hold on to.

“The action that we decide to take needs to be balanced with our ability to provide services at a standard our residents expect.

“While services haven’t been affected to a great degree up until now with further cuts expected the council cannot guarantee that they will not have to make changes in the future.”

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