Liberal Democrat County Councillors have expressed their dismay after it was revealed, in response to a Freedom of Information Act Request, that Conservative-run Surrey County Council has left 20 buildings empty for a cumulative total of 112 years, with one building in Warlingham left empty for a shocking 18 years. The County Council spent £307,464 in just one year in 2016/17 maintaining its 20 vacant buildings.
Cllr Hazel Watson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council said today:
"The Conservative administration at County Hall has allowed 20 of its own buildings to stand empty for a cumulative total of 112 years, with one building in Warlingham left empty for a shocking 18 years.
"It is wrong that these council buildings have been left empty without earning any rental income and not properly maintained, in fact left to decay with the result that they are less valuable. This is no way to manage property.
"The response to my Freedom of Information request to the County Council reveals that it spent £304,464 in just one year, in 2016/17, maintaining 20 empty buildings at council tax payer expense. The total cost for maintaining these buildings over all the years that they have been left empty will be a massive amount. This is an utter waste of council tax payers' money which could be much better spent on vital services for Surrey residents, many of which are being cut due to the County Council's financial crisis.
"These empty buildings should either be used for providing council services or let for rent or sold. I am pressing the Conservative administration to stop wasting money and for urgent action to be taken to use, rent or sell these buildings.
"I regret that, as a county councillor, I have had to resort to the Freedom of Information Act in order to obtain what are basic facts about County Council-owned properties. I can only assume that the Conservative administration at County Hall deemed the information too embarrassing to provide to me, which is completely unacceptable."
- The list of empty buildings, obtained via an FOI request, can be found here:
- Cllr Watson's original FOI request can be found here:
- The covering letter for the FOI response can be found here:
- Cllr Watson's previous Cabinet question on this matter can be found here (p9-11):