Millions spent on empty properties, new figures from Herts County Council reveal

editorial image
Share this article

New figures show that Herts County Council has spent more than £7m on securing and heating 29 empty properties – including £350,821 on a former school in Hemel Hempstead.

The money was also spent on fire stations and other facilities owned by the authority across a nine-year period.

The £350,821 was put into what used to be Jupiter Drive Primary School in Highfield, which closed in 2007, between 2008 and 2013.

Meanwhile, £17,420 was spent on the former Woolmer Drive respite home for disabled children in 2012, and there was a £15,997 bill for the Leverstock Green site in 2013.

The council spent £7,269 on the now-closed Kings Langley Youth Club in 2012. Although some of this was recouped through rental income, the authority made a loss of £4,256 on the property between 2012 and 2013.

The figures were revealed by the opposition Liberal Democrat group at County Hall.

Group leader Councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst said: “Frankly these figures are staggering and worrying – £7m could have been far better spent on new schools or our roads.”

A County Hall spokesman refused to be drawn on political points raised by the opposition, but said the cost of short-term care for the council’s empty properties is outweighed by the long-term financial and community benefits of holding on to some of the sites.

The authority says that spending on electricity and heating helps the fabric of the buildings remain sound and that it would be irresponsible not to keep its properties secure.