Northampton

Northamptonshire County Council considers selling new £53m headquarters

Angel Square in Northampton Image copyright Google
Image caption The Angel Square complex opened in October

A cash-strapped local authority is considering selling its new £53m headquarters, which officially opened in October.

Northamptonshire County Council's plan would then see the building leased back, the BBC has learned.

One Angel Square was designed to save money by closing 12 offices and making best use of a new office block.

Government inspectors are currently assessing whether the council is managing money properly.

The BBC has learned the council is looking at a number of options to bring in money short-term one of which is to sell the building.

Under the arrangement, the office complex - which the council said is already saving £53,000 a week on reduced running costs - would be sold as freehold with the council leasing it back for a period of 25 years or more.

The authority would also be able to sub-let space to third parties to partially offset rental costs.

'Capital receipts'

It is one of several options and no decision has been made. Details of the other options have not yet been released.

Conservative county councillor Robin Brown said: "Our financial challenge is severe and ongoing and therefore we need to explore all avenues of funding that is available to fund our statutory services.

"This arrangement would see substantial capital receipts which would make a significant funding injection for our core services."

Opposition finance spokesman, Labour councillor Mick Scrimshaw, said: "It's a bizarre and desperate move in one way, but actually it's quite a clever idea and given the critical nature of the county council's finance, I sort of understand where they are coming from.

"The problem is it's very much a short-term fix, a sort of sticking plaster approach and is unsustainable in the long-term."

The proposals will be discussed by the county council's cabinet in February.

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