The following letter from Councillor Patricia Morgan, cabinet member for corporate services was published in the Hereford Times on Thursday 31 October 2013.
With reference to your article on sales of council assets (October 17) Herefordshire Council, like many other councils, own many assets ranging from tiny parcels of land to offices such as Plough Lane.
Herefordshire Council has a duty to manage the asset portfolio, so that it uses county taxpayers’ money to the best advantage.
Inevitably over time, some of the assets have become surplus to requirement either because they are not delivering a sufficient return and / or that they are no longer strategically important to support the delivery of services.
Currently the council has a policy for the disposal of surplus assets, which has been in operation since 2009.
The assets recently sold at auction were part of a series of three auctions to sell off surplus assets under the current policy. The first was in July and a third is planned for February next year. This is not some ‘fire sale’, but a planned approach to ensure best value for the taxpayer.
There are many ways to sell assets but the key driver must surely be ensuring value for money for the taxpayer.
The use of an auction using a government procured supplier is a tried and tested method available to councils and government departments for asset disposal.
It offers relatively low fixed price commission; is highly competitive as tendered by the government’s procurement service; ensures local, national and global coverage; requires no tendering process so Herefordshire Council incurs no procurement cost; demonstrates best practice and value for money, promoted by the cabinet office and reduces bureaucracy with instant access to service and very quick turnaround.
The results of the two auctions have confirmed that this has been a good decision.
All lots at both auctions sold with 24 hours. All reserve prices were met and many substantially exceeded. A competitive auction attracted local, national and international interest.
All money raised at the auction from sales must go into the corporate capital pot. This money can only be used to offset debt or fund a capital project. If debt is offset this can support the revenue position as interest payments will be reduced.
Councillor Patricia Morgan
Cabinet member for corporate services