Nearly £2.7 million has been spent from selling public assets on making over 200 redundancies from the town’s council in the past three years, according to new data from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
“In the last few years alone the Council has bought over £50m in NEW assets, far outstripping the amount that we have sold.”
Public spaces such as Leybourne House Care Home and the former Bournemouth Centre for the Community Arts in Boscombe have been sold since 2014.
Cllr Philip Broadhead, Cabinet Member for Local Government Reorganisation and Economic Growth, said: “in the last few years alone the Council has bought over £50m in NEW assets, far outstripping the amount that we have sold. So in reality we now own much more that we did a few years ago. These assets also generate an income which further improves and protects services.”
New unitary council
The council have defended the expenditure, suggesting staff was dismissed to prepare for next month’s council merger.
A new unitary authority will provide all local government services in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, plus a second unitary council for the rest of Dorset.
Adam Richens, Bournemouth’s Chief Financial Officer, said: “Across the two financial years 2016/17 and 2017/18 the Council applied £1.168m as part of its Flexible Use of Capital Receipts Strategy. This funding was used to meet costs incurred in undertaking the organisational transformation work needed to address the financial challenges on the Council including the impact of reductions in Government funding. These costs included 46 redundancies.”
Before 2016, local government could only use profits from the sale of public assets to re-invest in more public property.
However in April 2016, the rules were relaxed to allow local authorities to spend the proceeds on cost-cutting measures, such as redundancies.
Since more spending powers were given to local councils, the average number of redundancies was 75% higher at councils that made use of the new spending powers than their counterparts.