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Essex County Council could sell off £40million land and assets in Billericay and Westcliff
BOSSES at County Hall could sell off £40million of land and assets in a bid to save cash in the face of crippling Government cuts.
Essex County Council will be putting dozens of plots under the hammer in the next three years to save £235million by 2017.
Almost an acre of woodland off Crays Hill Road, Billericay, will be coming up at a London auction on Monday at a guide price of £5,000.
Land off Kenilworth Gardens, Westcliff, which houses an electricity sub-station, is also being sold for £3,000, as well as two sites in Clacton and Tendring.
Council leader David Finch said: “We are working to a programme which anticipates reviewing £40million of land and property over April 2013 to March 2016.”
The authority is also working with Hadleigh Junior and Infant School to auction more than five acres of surplus land off Church Road and The Avenue, Hadleigh, which will go towards rebuilding the 100-year-old school. The three plots were put up for sale in November 2012, but a buyer has still not been found.
However, the council is refusing to clarify how many other sites it wants to dispose of and where they are, due to confidentiality issues.
Last year, four families on Canvey were left stunned after County Hall put their front gardens up for auction, which were sold toamystery buyer.
Concerns have been raised history could repeat itself.
Dave Blackwell, Canvey Island Independent Party county councillor for Canvey East, said: “I have no problem with the disposal of assets which the council now has no use for. But if it’s part of someone’s garden, then they should be offered it first.
“County Hall has masses of land and for all we know it could be school playing fields or people’s gardens it wants to dispose of.”
Kerry Smith, Ukip county councillor for Basildon Westley Heights, said: “In principle, this is a good idea. But the public should be knowwhere this land is.”
Mr Finch said: “When we look to sell land we go through a process, which includes contacting adjacent and adjoining owners where appropriate, and notifying the local county councillor of any forthcoming disposal, so they have an opportunity to comment on proposals.
The sites are generallymarketed through property agents, who put up boards.”