Councils ordered to disclose assets

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Indy Politics

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has ordered every council to publish a list of the land and buildings they own.







He said most taxpayers were not aware of the "sheer scale and scope" of the number of assets owned by the public sector.



The Government wants all public bodies to catalogue every asset in a bid to identify billions of pounds of potential savings.



Land and property owned by the public sector are worth an estimated £385 billion, with almost two-thirds owned by councils, according to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).



Ministers believe that around £35 billion could be saved over 10 years through "better property management".



Mr Pickles said: "We need to know, now more than ever, exactly what assets are publicly owned.



"The general public probably have no idea of the sheer scale and scope of property and land on the public sector's books. In many cases it goes way beyond traditional frontline services.



"I want the public sector to take a good hard look at what they own. By cataloguing each and every asset councils can help Government find innovative new ways to utilise them, improve local services, keep council running costs down and save taxpayers' money.



"This asset information also holds huge potential for local communities, offering an at a glance way to find that new meeting place or rescue the derelict tennis court round the corner."



A new "demonstration map" published on the DCLG website has located more than 180,000 assets owned by almost 600 public sector bodies, including central Government and 87 councils.



According to the department, publicly-owned assets include more than 130 cafes and restaurants, over 100 pubs, around 60 theatres, more than 40 hotels, and around 20 cinemas.



Also listed are nearly 100 golf courses, almost 30 sports stadia, and a handful of horse riding centres.



Shadow local government minister Jack Dromey said: "Councils have a duty to tackle waste and ensure the assets they hold deliver the best value for money for local people.



"However, nothing should deflect from the fact that the size and speed of the Tory-led government's decision to hit councils with deliberately frontloaded cuts has seen frontline services lost, cuts to charities and the voluntary sector and local jobs lost."

PA

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