Northamptonshire County Council to sell new £53m HQ
A cash-strapped council has agreed to sell its new £53m headquarters, which opened just over four months ago.
Northamptonshire County Council’s plan would then see the building leased back to it.
One Angel Square was designed to save money by closing 12 offices and bringing them under one roof.
The authority has brought in a section 114 notice, banning new expenditure as it faces a £21.1m overspend for 2017-18.
The plan, which would see the office complex sold as freehold with the council leasing it back for a period of 25 years or more, was rubber-stamped at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
It comes in response to the authority’s financial crisis, which has seen government inspectors sent in.
Under the arrangement, the authority will also be able to sub-let space to third parties to partially offset rental costs.
The council says it is already saving £53,000 a week due to reduced running costs since moving to the new building.
Conservative county councillor Robin Brown said: “This is one of the ways we would expect to be able to fund the services we want to see funded in the county.”
Opposition finance spokesman, Labour councillor Mick Scrimshaw, previously called the plan “bizarre and desperate”.
He added: “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.”