By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter
Hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money is being used to maintain empty Nottinghamshire council buildings every year.
Nottinghamshire County Council currently has 37 vacant buildings which incur security and maintenance costs.
The authority says a review of all of its properties and how they could be best handled was under way.
A Freedom of Information Act request revealed that between August 2020 and July 2021, the total cost of keeping these buildings was £425,599.
A Labour councillor said the figures were a ‘disgrace’ to the Conservative-run council.
Security was the biggest cost, at £230,235 for the year including the fitting of alarms, cameras and callouts to the sites.
Maintenance cost the taxpayer £195,364 in the space of a year, covering boarding, repairs to buildings and landscaping.
The buildings are a mixture of former offices, historic buildings and facilities such as empty care homes and school sites.
Councillor Michelle Welsh (Lab), who represents Arnold South, said: “A ridiculous amount of taxpayers money is being spent on buildings that could be offering the community so much more.
“People deserve better than buildings been left to rack and ruin for years and years.
“It is a disrespectful way to treat communities, it brings them down.
“If a care home has been closed down and the council is spending all that money on the empty building, they could’ve just kept it open for lower cost. Then people can stay locally.”
Councillor Keith Girling (Con), chairman of the Economic Development and Asset Management Committee, said that following his appointment as chairman in May 2021 he had ordered a review of all the council’s properties and how they could be best handled going forward.
This review sits alongside the hybrid working plans, a mix of home and office-based working, that Councillor Girling is also overseeing, which looks into staff working arrangements in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Coun Girling said: “The County Council has a lot of properties in its portfolio which is why it’s important we evaluate our estate and get a plan in place for the future.
“Some of the properties are historical, Grade-listed buildings, others will need to be refurbished or renovated for community use, whilst others will have to be demolished so we can sell the land for development.
“I’m in constant touch with the officers carrying out the review and I hope to be announcing plans in the near future.”
The figures were released after it was revealed in October that more than £34,000 of taxpayers’ cash was spent on security at an empty former county council care home in Gedling.
Leivers Court Care Home, in Arnold, was shut in 2019 and has not been in use since.