Calls for Northampton Borough Council to sell off Albion House dismissed

Albion House is next to the St John's multi-storey car park
Albion House is next to the St John's multi-storey car park

Calls for the borough council to sell off a town centre building to raise funds to protect public services have been rejected by the majority of councillors.

Northampton Borough Council purchased Albion House, next to St John’s multi-storey car park, in November 2014 after cabinet approval.

Since then plans to extend the car park on to land where Albion House currently stands have been shelved by the council. Liberal Democrat councillors had wanted to know what it plans to do with the site and if no plans are in the pipeline to sell it off.

The motion, tabled by Councillor Brian Markham, was rejected when councillors discussed it on Monday (November 4) at The Guildhall.

Councillor Markham said: “The administration is in the process of preparing a draft budget for 2020/21 which it will consider at the cabinet meeting on December 11. This comes at a time when local government finances are being squeezed and this council is facing a deficit of £750,000 plus in the current year.

“In November 2014 the cabinet approved the purchase of Albion House for a sum up to £500,000. The building has not been brought into productive use and this council believes the benefit of maintaining ownership of this under-utilised asset needs to be reconsidered.

“As part of the budget preparation, the administration should consider the disposal of Albion House to provide vital finance to protect vital public services.”

But both Conservative and Labour councillors voted against the motion, with just the three Lib Dem councillors supporting it.

Conservative cabinet member for planning, regeneration and enterprise, Councillor Tim Hadland, said: “We get rent from it and it provides us with net income. Selling it would reduce our revenue income. There’s no danger in hanging on to it for a while. We keep tabs on all our buildings but this one is not top of our list.”

And Labour leader Councillor Danielle Stone added: “We should maximise the use of all of our assets. We used to sell off and dispose assets a lot and I have always been very wary of that.”

Back in May, Conservative council leader Jonathan Nunn told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that plans to extend the car park on to Albion House were ‘not cost effective’.

But he added: “The building has turned out to be a good investment, and is worth much more than when we bought it.”