Leeds Council: Old Rothwell civic building and court chambers to go up for auction for £340,000
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Rothwell’s former urban district offices will go under the hammer on December 5. The area’s ward councillors, all three of whom are Liberal Democrats, had campaigned for the offices to be transferred to a local community group after it was vacated in 2016.
But the Labour-run city council said last month it had to sell the building, on Marsh Street, because of its dire financial predicament.
The property is described on Pugh Auctions’ website as a “substantial and imposing detached building, formerly used as council offices and court chambers.”
Further down, it is noted: “We believe the property would be suitable for conversion/redevelopment for a variety of alternative uses, subject to the necessary consents.”
The website also says bidding for the property will close on December 6, the day after the auction opens.
Councillor Stewart Golton said the council had “serious questions to answer” around how they reached the decision to sell it off.
He said: “This is a valued historic local asset that the community have been trying to get handed over ever since Leeds City Council mothballed the building seven years ago.
“The community deserved to be consulted and warned the council was planning to sell our heritage off.
“Instead, we effectively got a ‘no fault eviction’ notice to clear the building of any historic items of local interest within days before the building was handed over to the auction house.”
But in a statement defending the move last month, the council said it was facing a £30m hole in its finances. The authority used reserves for the first time in recent history to bridge the gap in its budget earlier this year, and is likely to have do so again in 2024.
A spokesperson said: “In order to meet this challenge, and fulfil the legal obligation to deliver balanced budgets each year, we have reached the stage where we need to look at every option no matter how unpalatable, which along with the possibility of compulsory redundancies also includes building closures, asset sales and stopping or reducing some council services, which will no doubt have an impact.”
The council said it was “important” the building was sold to reduce the costs of having to hold and maintain it.
It added: “Given the scale of the funding shortfall we will be looking at every building in the council estate from the Civic Hall to local community facilities, to identify what can be disposed of while still providing services to the public.”