‘Assets could be better managed’

AN OUTSPOKEN Tory has criticised the local authority for not doing more to make sure council-owned buildings were kept safe – or earning money.

Eastbourne Borough Council has launched new plans to better manage the borough’s assets after it ordered a review of which properties were in need of repair work.

However, Councillor Patrick Warner slammed his LibDem rivals for not beginning the process earlier – arguing they have had four years in which to kick-start the tidy-up, which had been mooted in 2006 and again in 2008.

The Tory questioned whether the council even knew how many buildings or plots of land it currently owned and said there would be a great deal of confusion surrounding the scheme.

He said, “There have been unacceptable levels of confusion. Confusion over who is responsible for this fiasco, who signed off the 2008 report and never acted on it and confusion over how long it will take taxpayers, visitors and members of staff to be assured they won’t be injured by the unknown condition of some 530 assets, with it likely to take up to three years for their true condition to be known.”

And he said the authority had essentially missed out on years of possible income by not managing its assets better.

He also criticised the council decision to spend £13,000 on consultants to assess the asset situation for staff.

His colleague Cllr Annabelle West agreed, saying the council was lucky nobody had been injured and tried to sue it as a result.

LibDem cabinet member Cllr Troy Tester however, defended his party, saying that action had not been taken sooner was because that in 2007 the fledgling council had more important things to worry about.

He said, “It was the incompetence of the previous council which made it impossible to deal with this until structural changes had been made.”

And council leader Cllr David Tutt agreed, adding that it was important the authority was being open about the problem.