Sale of County Hall will NOT be referred back to Northamptonshire County Council cabinet

The sale of County Hall will proceed after a call-in of the decision was not referred back to cabinet
The sale of County Hall will proceed after a call-in of the decision was not referred back to cabinet

The sale of County Hall in Northampton will NOT be referred back to Northamptonshire County Council’s cabinet - after councillors found it had followed ‘due process’.

The cabinet’s decision to sell off the 18th-century building in George Row had been called-in by eight opposition councillors who were concerned the process had not followed procedure.

Councillor Chris Stanbra (Liberal Democrat) told the scrutiny management committee this morning (July 2) that the decision was not proportional for the amount it would raise for the troubled council, that there had been no consultation on the sale and that realistic alternatives to selling the site had not been evaluated.

He said: “I’ve outlined a whole list of reasons why I don’t think this met the principles behind decision making.”

Councillor Michael Clarke, cabinet member for finance, had previously said that the county council could ‘ill afford’ the £380,000 running costs to keep the historic Grade I Listed building open.

At the meeting this morning, he said: “We need to be clear about the reasons for this call-in. If the process was flawed then there would be a case for this committee to cast doubt. But everything was followed to the book.

“This council is in financial trouble, and the policy of asset sales has been continued by this cabinet and we make no apology for that.

“We have parted company with 12 other buildings and there was no call-in of any of those.”

The committee, which could have asked cabinet to look at the decision again, instead decided not to refer it back to the decision makers.

They did however recommend that before a final decision is reached to sell the building, that due consideration is given to the importance of continued public access, continued access for democratic purposes such as council meetings, and the building’s importance as a heritage asset.

The committee also recommended that a future report on those issues is brought back to cabinet.