THE proposed sale of over 150 Council-owned buildings and assets has been compared to “selling the family silver” and something future generations would “curse” the Council for.

Bradford Council has this week revealed a list of assets that it proposes to sell in an attempt to stave off bankruptcy.

The list includes car parks, former schools and potential housing sites throughout the district.

With some properties the Council holds the freehold, but other businesses own the leasehold on a long term basis.

These properties include the Airedale Shopping Centre in Keighley, Cedar Court Hotel, the Drop Kick Pub on Huddersfield Road, Calverley Golf Course and the Light Cinema at the Broadway Shopping Centre.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Drop Kick pub - which Bradford Council owns the freehold for The Drop Kick pub - which Bradford Council owns the freehold for (Image: google)

Other assets on the 155 strong list include Glyde House in Bradford city centre, Bingley Town Hall, Rhodesway Pool on Oaks Lane and the ground lease to the Asda supermarket in Shipley.

See the full list of Bradford Council assets that could be sold off by clicking here

Under local Government rules, Councils cannot use the sale of property to fund services. But with Bradford Council facing potential bankruptcy, the authority has asked Government to agree to a “capitalisation direction” in an attempt to balance its budget.

This would allow the Council to use income from property sales to plug holes in its budgets, such as in Children’s Services.

On Tuesday the Council’s Corporate Scrutiny Committee discussed the list of assets during a discussion on finances.

Members were told the list was the “first phase” of Council-owned assets that would be sold in a bid to raise £60m over two years.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Glyde House in Bradford city centreGlyde House in Bradford city centre (Image: newsquest)

Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe said: “It can take some time to get assets ready for disposal.

“If we are looking to sell a housing site, we need to get planning permission first to increase the value of the land. We have an obligation to get the best value for the land we sell.”

Councillor David Green (Lab, Wibsey) said: “Some assets we are forced to sell produce an income.

“We might get £1m for a building or piece of land, but we might be getting £8,000 a year income from leasing that land.

“In the long term the Council is potentially losing money, as well as losing a lever for regeneration.

“The biggest challenge we’ve had in the past is that compared to other Councils, Bradford Council doesn’t own that much property that could help with regeneration.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bingley Town HallBingley Town Hall (Image: newsquest)

“I’m concerned we’re being forced by Government into selling land that will lead to us losing out on long term income and no longer having the leverage to carry out what we want to do as a Council.”

Joanne Hyde, Director for Corporate Resources, said: “If any of these properties are taken off the list and are not sold, we’d have to replace them with something else.”

Cllr Hinchcliffe said: “Everything Government is saying to Councils now is ‘use your reserves. If you don’t have any reserves sell your assets.’ “That is the policy of the Government. We all recognise it is not a long-term way of funding local authorities.”

Cllr Green said: “It feels like we are selling the family silver – which some of these assets could prove to be.

“The Government isn’t looking beyond the next few years, but the Council has the responsibility not just for the next couple of years but to look to the next 20 or so years.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Airedale Shopping Centre in Keighley - of which the Council owns the freeholdThe Airedale Shopping Centre in Keighley - of which the Council owns the freehold (Image: google)

“The assets the Government believes should be sold now are ones that people in 20 years time, be they Councillors, officers or members of the public, will be cursing us for selling.

“The biggest worry is the loss of future opportunities.”

Councillor Brendan Stubbs (Lib Dem, Eccleshill) said: “The Government direction of travel for Councils is for them to spend reserves and reduce services to the point where Councils only provide statutory services.

“Is there any way in this discussion with Government about what we can and can’t keep where we can ask them to see beyond two or three years?”

He was told the Council were in discussion with Government.

A Bradford Council spokesman told the Telegraph & Argus: “The intention is to initially generate £60M during 2024/5 and 2025/6 with further work during this period to bring forward more disposal opportunities for either incorporation into this time frame or for future years.

“This list has been drawn up after an initial review of the Council’s Property interests.  Each asset will be reviewed as to whether they should be disposed of or retained, so no decision has yet been made.

“For some properties on the list where the Council owns the freehold, there is often a separate leasehold on the property owned by another party.  In simple terms, the council might own the land the building is on, but someone else occupies the building itself.  In these cases, the tenants should not notice a change.” 

A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesperson said: “Councils are ultimately responsible for their own finances, but we stand ready to talk to any council concerned about its financial position.

“We have engaged with the sector over options to allow councils greater financial flexibilities whilst ensuring every penny of taxpayer money is well-spent, and are carefully considering what proportionate safeguards are needed.”