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Process where Longridge property leased to pet shop set out

Posted on - 17th October, 2023 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Longridge, Preston News, Ribble Valley Locations, Ribble Valley News
Longridge Over-60s Club
Longridge Over-60s Club before it closed

The alleged ‘loss’ to the community of a council-owned building in Longridge, described as a community activity base for over 25 years but now let to a shop, has been raised at Ribble Valley Council.

In the past, the building on Towneley Road was used by the Longridge Over-60s Club, councillors have heard. Another community group showed some interest in renting the building last year.  But it failed to reply to an estate agency about what it was willing to pay, councillors were told.

And the council’s process for letting properties has been defended.

Read more: More than 90 new homes for Longridge but developer must fund school places

Lib-Dem Coun Stewart Fletcher raised the topic at the latest full meeting of Ribble Valley Council.

He said: “Longridge recently lost a building that has been a hive of community activity for over 25 years. A proposal was given to Ribble Valley Council by a local charity to turn that very building into a community hub that would benefit residents. The building is now a pet shop.

“Could the leader enlighten councillors on the procurement process for buildings owned by the council? How do you decided who wins the bids? And what weight is given to what our assets are going to be used for?”

Conservative Coun Stephen Atkinson, the borough council leader, said: “In September 2022, the council’s Policy & Finance Committee accepted a decision from the Longridge Assets Working Group to offer the former Over-60s Club premises for rent on the open market. At this committee, members were also informed the working group had approached Longridge Town Council to ask if it had any thoughts on what the building could be used for?

“That request led to some town councillors visiting the premises. Following the correspondence, Longridge Community Action expressed interest in the building.

“The Policy & Finance Committee agreed for the council’s economic and planning director to get an updated valuation and procure services to market it for rent. And the chief executive was authorised to agree a suitable rental value, take it to market and agree a reasonable offer for the property.

“Following the resolution, the property was revalued and the services of Trevor Dawson [estate agency] was procured to market the property for rent.

“In January 2023, committee members were advised there had been some interest but no formal offer had been received. The interest was from Longridge Community Action group, who had sent a proposal to Trevor Dawson in November 2022. This proposal did not set-out how much the group would pay for renting the building. The information was requested by our letting agent but no response was ever received.”

Coun Atkinson continued, saying: “In February, Tails Of The Town offered to lease the building for the advertised rent of £10,000 per year. A lease was agreed on these terms.  Only one offer was received which met the marketed rental amount for the property. This offer was accepted by the chief executive under delegated responsibility from the Policy & Finance Committee.”

He added: “To answer your general point about council premises, as you can see, when premises become vacant, a report is presented to the appropriate committee, which considers what direction to authorise officers to take.”

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